Haida Gwaii Observer
HAIDA GWAII—A Port Hardy man spent the last week of January teaching survival skills to members of the Canadian Forces in Haida Gwaii.
“It was incredible, I had a great time,” said Tom Cook, a Port Hardy mechanic who spends one night a month and several weekends a year training with the Port Hardy Canadian Rangers Patrol. Cook has been affiliated with the Port Hardy Rangers for the last ten years.
The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Forces reserve, which provides a military presence in northern, coastal and isolated Canada and whose members are easily recognized by their red hats and shirts.
Cook joined Canadian Rangers from across the province teaching fire building, traps and snares, shelters and other survival skills to members of Haida Gwaii’s 39 Brigade over a three-day period. The soldiers then spent another three days in survival camps with limited resources, putting those skills to the test.
The Basic Wilderness Survival Training is offered by the Canadian Rangers once a year to other branches of the Canadian Forces, said Captain Steven Parker, officer commanding of BC Company of the Fourth Canadian Rangers Patrol Group. Parker said Canadian Rangers are used to teach the training because of their vast amount of outdoor skills.
“I learned once again that you really learn by teaching,” said Cook, who said he has always been interested in survival training.
He taught shelter building from materials found at the training, a skill all of the soldiers used once they were dropped off in their survival camps. Only four of the twenty-two candidates didn’t last the three days in the wilderness and Cook thinks the training was well-received.
“All of the feedback I heard (from the candidates) was quite good,” he said. “They felt that the Rangers as a whole had done an excellent job and done a whole bunch of legwork, and worked behind the scenes to make sure that when the candidates arrived everything was in order and seamless.”
The weather was extremely challenging during the training but Cook said he would most definitely do it again.
“It’s a beautiful area to operate in,” he said. “I just love it; I can’t think of anything bad about the entire experience.”