Sandy Lake youth receives army award
Sage Mawakeesick was only doing what he felt was his duty when he volunteered to help during Sandy Lake’s evacuation last summer.
As a forest fire threatened his community, Mawakeesick stepped up and volunteered his services to the local Canadian Ranger patrol sergeant after an evacuation was declared.
“As soon as I heard, I immediately knew I had to do something,” the 17-year-old said. “As a Junior Ranger, I just had to do it.”
On Feb. 28, Mawakeesick was commended for his efforts by the commanding officer of the Canadian Rangers in northern Ontario.
Lt. Col. Morley Armstrong said Mawakeesick, who is a DFC High School student, was a “great assistance” and “huge factor” in the successful operation of the evacuation.
“He worked tirelessly for his community, carrying baggage for the sick and elderly, and loading aircraft that were transporting the evacuees,” Armstrong said as he read the commendation over DFC’s public address system. “Sage’s professionalism, maturity and dedication in this time of great need are a testament to him as an individual.”
Mawakeesick has been involved with the Junior Canadian Rangers since he was 12, following the tradition of his father, who was a Canadian Ranger.
“It’s been extraordinary and very fun,” he said. “We learn survival skills and we just go camping and have fun.”
Mawakeesick said he felt proud as he helped his fellow community members, including helping a wheelchair bound man onto a plane.
He does not recall feeling fear as forest fires threatened his community.
“I guess you can say I’m that kind of person,” he said with a laugh.
What struck Mawakeesick the most was the noise.
“They started getting irritating, the planes coming and going,” he said.
Upon graduating high school, Mawakeesick plans on becoming a Canadian Ranger like his father.
Armstrong said it is important to recognize individuals like Mawakeesick.
“What is important to do when someone steps up and performs beyond the call of duty is to recognize that performance,” he said.
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