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Iqaluit ranger to get medal

12 years of service recognized

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Resolution Island (Aug 12/02) - Pitseolak Alainga will be receiving a Canadian Decorative Medal next month for 12 years of service as a Canadian Ranger.

NNSL photo

Pitseolak Alainga guards his tent on Resolution Island with a rifle. - Christine Kay/NNSL photo

Within those 12 years, Alainga has had many opportunities. He recently travelled to Resolution Island aboard the naval ship HMCS Goose Bay to work with the army for a weekend.

"This is a good experience," he said.

"There's the army, there's the navy and the media. Lots of polar bears, too. I expected that."

Alainga said the only thing he didn't expect was catching a cold and having a small toothache. He liked travelling aboard the ship, but the camp at Resolution Island with the rifles outside the tent and the guys up on the hills and people socializing was more like home.

"When you grow up with your dad and all the other brothers that travel down here for walrus hunting, it's just like any other trip," said Alainga.

For this ranger, the responsibilities of the job are all part of his life. He likes it because he was taught to help everybody and to make sure everyone is kept safe.

"It's not just the ranger route, but my dad's route and my grandpa's route - they were rangers too and they were there to help."

That's exactly what Alainga and the camp's five other rangers were on Resolution Island to do. Their main responsibility was to keep the polar bears a safe distance away from the camp.

Alainga said they worked in shifts and that because of his cold, he usually stayed up in the hills whistling or talking to himself.

"Sometimes I think about how big the polar bear is going to be when it goes by. A 12-footer was the biggest one I ever encountered. It was shot by my sister, though, because I was a lot younger," he said.

Alainga said the rangers and the army often work together and that this trip to Resolution Island was a fine example of that.

"When we're out on the land, it's usually us being the teachers and the army being the students, but sometimes it turns around," he explained.

When Alainga is not on ranger duty, he is either working or out on the land. He works as a plumber in the summer.

The 35-year-old hopes he can keep the role for a long time. He said he hopes his boys become Rangers one day -- and if they don't, he hopes that they will continue helping others like he has done, his father has done and his grandfather before that.