Equipping Junior Rangers – solutions & self-esteem

 –  Sep 14, 2016

By Bryan Mackay with files from Natalie Flynn, Army Public Affairs

Harrington Harbour, Quebec — Master Corporal Rowena Osborne has a variety of occupations and responsibilities on her resume: work with National Defence, as a Canadian Ranger and as helicopter cargo crew; but it is her work with the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs) that brings her the most joy.

Master Corporal Rowena Osborne on exercise with fellow members of 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group. MCpl Osborne has served as a Ranger for the past decade.

MCpl Osborne hails from Harrington Harbour, Quebec.  The island community was founded in the 19th century, is currently home to less than 300 people, and is known mostly for its fishing industry. A helicopter service connects it several times per day to the mainland village of Chevery, which is another community of less than 300 people. MCpl Osborne’s civilian day job is as one of the people responsible for loading and unloading the helicopter’s cargo, allowing the two communities to stay connected and stocked with supplies.

Both her civilian and Canadian Ranger jobs demand a lot of focus and responsibility, the latter being a commitment she views with particular pride. MCpl Osborne is the facilitator of Harrington Harbour’s Junior Canadian Rangers Patrol. The JCR Patrol meets weekly to give youth aged 12 to 18 an opportunity to learn important lessons in teamwork and leadership.

This is done through a variety of Canadian Ranger lessons, including using a map and compass, learning first aid skills, training in marksmanship, working with search and rescue scenarios, and participating in important community services. They are also taught about different life experiences, traditions and cultures and take part in the Preventing Harassment and Abuse through Successful Education (PHASE) Program.

PHASE is MCpl Osborne’s personal pet project. The program teaches JCRs ways to deal with and prevent harassment and abuse in all forms and is primarily taught through videos and games. Additionally, PHASE incorporates communication tools such as sharing circles – giving JCRs a means to express their feelings and experiences.

Since its inception, PHASE has had a tremendous positive effect on the community.

“Looking at it from the beginning until now, there has been a huge difference, for the better, when we talk about racism and cultural exchanges,” MCpl Osborne said.

The JCR Program, she says, is her biggest pride and it has not gone unnoticed. She received a commendation from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) for her work in 2015, as well as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Due to Harrington Harbour’s small size, PHASE also serves as a way to touch base on serious events and topics within the community. This in turn gives the JCRs a method to work out, deal with and potentially solve problems before they can escalate. “We can try to correct it and find solutions.”

Master Corporal Rowena Osborne receives her promotion to Master Corporal from Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Plourde, Commanding Officer of 2 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group in December 2015. 

Looking towards the future, MCpl Osborne is interested in expanding the Program’s scope and adding a variety of angles and perspectives to the lessons.

“Year after year, it gets to be the same, so we’ve got to change it up a bit to make it more interesting,” she reasoned. “For example, if we talk about bullying, there are so many things under bullying that we can talk about, so we talk about such things as relationship challenges, and then it becomes a different angle.”

One subject in particular that MCpl Osborne is interested in adding to the program’s modules is the concept of self-esteem. “If you have good self-esteem, then you can beat risks,” she noted. To that end, she has made presentations on self-esteem across several communities. Her commendation from the VCDS was in recognition of these efforts.

“I am proud to be a Ranger. I’m so proud to be a part of this program with the Junior Canadian Rangers,” MCpl Osborne said. “I think it is money well spent, and I hope it continues for a long time down the road.”

Reflecting on almost a decade of experience as a Ranger, MCpl Osborne feels an enormous amount of pride. Her father served as a Ranger for 25 years and she has followed suit, as have her siblings.

The Canadian Rangers conduct sovereignty and surveillance patrols, participate in search and rescue operations, and provide support during disasters, making them an integral component of Canada’s domestic safety and an important part of many communities.

“We don’t know what we’re capable of until we do it,” MCpl Osborne said. “I’m ready for challenges and I think we can do whatever it takes.”

Master Corporal Rowena Osborne receives a Vice Chief of Defence Staff Commendation from Brigadier-General Rob Roy MacKenzie, Chief of Staff Army Reserve, and Chief Warrant Officer.