Canada partnering with Indigenous coastal communities to enhance marine safety in British Columbia

From: Canadian Coast Guard

British Columbia - Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous coastal communities to improve marine safety and responsible shipping to protect Canada's marine environment.

As part of this $1.5 billion plan, in 2017 the Canadian Coast Guard launched the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. Under this program, communities are provided with funding to purchase boats and equipment to enhance their marine safety capacity as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Today, under year three of the program, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $312,815 for Nisga'a Nation and $214,156 for Ahousaht Nation to each purchase a search and rescue boat and related equipment for the communities.

Through new equipment and training, Auxiliary members are better equipped and prepared to respond to marine emergencies, helping to enhance the safety of their communities and the surrounding waters and coasts.

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization of 4,000 volunteer members with access to 1,100 vessels that boost the Government of Canada's maritime search and rescue response capacity. The Canadian Coast Guard funds the Auxiliary through a contribution program totaling $7.7 million each year. The Auxiliary responds to approximately 25 per cent of maritime calls for assistance each year, providing an often life saving service.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada's coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a stronger marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.

November 7, 2020, marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Oceans Protection Plan. Despite the new challenges that have emerged with COVID-19, the Oceans Protection Plan continues to:

  • Foster partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities;
  • Improve marine incident response;
  • Prevent marine accidents and pollution;
  • Protect Canada's endangered whale populations; and
  • Preserve and restore Canada's marine ecosystems.


"Investment through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program recognizes the critical role of Indigenous communities as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in protecting mariners, and their residents. Indigenous coastal communities have been stewards of the environment including oceans and shores for generations, and are unquestionably vital to Canada's marine safety system today. The program provides necessary funding and equipment to support their efforts."

- The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"Our Government is committed to working with Indigenous coastal communities in order to protect some of Canada's greatest resources: oceans and waterways. Thanks to initiatives under the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping and coastal environments are safer now than ever before. Indigenous communities in their region have a significant role in implementing the Oceans Protection Plan. This additional funding will expand search and rescue capabilities for the residents of British Columbia and play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management."

- The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

"The Nisga'a Nation as represented by Nisga'a Lisims Government is committed to ensuring its programs, services and day to day operations reflect our vision, Sayt-K'il'im-Goot: One Heart, One Path, One nation. Using this vision, we are very excited to join the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary. The financial supports provided through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program has allowed us to purchase a Multi-use Vessel with many capabilities to render response services in the northern waters of B.C. We have also acquired search and rescue equipment to provide our responders with proper PPE to keep them safe. Lastly this program has provided funding to develop a training plan to lay the foundation and strive sustainable prosperity and self reliance for the long term with a purpose to protect both mariners and citizens traveling throughout the northwest coast of B.C."

- Anthony Moore, Emergency Response Services Manager, Nisga'a Lisims Government

Quick facts

  • As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is partnering with Indigenous and coastal communities to develop a world-leading marine safety system that meets the unique needs of people on all coasts.

  • The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program is a four-year pilot program, which began in 2017. Coast Guard continues conversations with coastal Indigenous communities to identify those that are interested in participating in the future.

  • The search and rescue capable boats and other equipment bought under this program meet the standards of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and Transport Canada.

  • Since the Oceans Protection Plan started in November 2016, over 50 initiatives have been announced in the areas of marine safety, research and ecosystem protection that span coast-to-coast-to-coast.

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