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Federal government commits Canadian Rangers to NWT flood response


The Government of Canada committed to providing flood assistance to the struggling communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River after a state of emergency was declared one week ago.

Bill Blair, federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness announced on his Twitter account on May 15 that the government approved the request for  assistance from the Northwest Territories.

"@CanadianForces Rangers will assist communities impacted by or at risk of floods," Blair said.

The announcement comes a day after Sean Whelly, Mayor of Fort Simpson, told two territorial ministers in the village that the communities need military help due to the effects of high water from the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers.

On May 14, Diane Archie, Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure and Paulie Chinna, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs arrived to meet with community leaders on the ground.

Andrée-Anne Poulin, communications officer with the federal Department of National Defence said that the government recognizes that high water levels caused by melts and ice jams on the Mackenzie River have led to the need for deployment of Canadian Rangers to the region.

"In response, 10 Canadian Ranger patrols were activated in the region on May 15, 2021, to provide assistance in dealing with the flooding," she said.

"The Rangers are working alongside other responders in the region to provide humanitarian assistance and address the immediate needs of these remote communities."

Poulin said that Rangers will help with evacuation of people affected by flooding, assist those vulnerable or stranded or in distress affected by flooding.

They will also be conducting welfare checks on people in the area and will be part of the ongoing Emergency Operations Centre command post in the affected communities.

Other tasks will include logistical and general support and involve things like transportation assistance, resupply and humanitarian assistance.

"Canadian Ranger support has been requested for a period of six weeks but will continue until the situation has stabilized and is manageable through local and provincial resources," Poulin said.