Army commendations awarded for preventing Indigenous youth suicides


Six members of the headquarters staff of the Canadian Rangers in Ontario have been awarded prestigious Canadian Army commendations for preventing youth suicides.

The awards recognize the outstanding service of the four soldiers during a youth suicide crisis in July and August 2017, in the remote Oji-Cree communities of Nibinamik and Wapekeka First Nations in the Far North of Ontario.

Major Charles Ohlke, Master Warrant Officer Barry Borton, and Warrant Officers Ben Kirke, Dan Stortz, Chris Thomson, and Carl Wolfe received commendations from the Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command.

“They are very significant awards and they should be worn with pride,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, Commanding Officer of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which commands the 630 Canadian Rangers in 27 First Nations across Northern Ontario.

The commendations were presented by Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul, commander of 4th Canadian Division, which commands the Army in Ontario, and Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. BGen Paul, a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation in Quebec, is the highest ranking Indigenous member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Canadian Rangers and Army instructors flew to Nabinamik and Wapekeka in 2017 to operate around-the-clock patrols to prevent youth suicides. There were no deaths while they were in the communities. It was the first time a Canadian military unit had ever undertaken such a mission.

Bravo Zulu to all! Click on the images below to find out more.

Image gallery

  • Major Charles Ohlke (centre) receives commendation from Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler (left) of Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul (right)
  • Warrant Officer Carl Wolfe
  • Master Warrant Officer Barry Borton
  • Warrant Officer Dan Stortz
  • Warrant Officer Christopher Thomson
  • Warrant Officer Ben Kirke

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