Ottawa, ON – The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, issued the following statement today:
“Today I join many of my colleagues, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Canadian Coast Guard employees, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada from coast to coast to coast in marking the start of National Indigenous History Month. This is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on and recognize the historical and ongoing importance of Indigenous values, cultures and traditions, and contributions in our communities.
“We must learn from our past in order to move forward on the path of reconciliation and a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples – one based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.
“This is something we’ve taken to heart at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard as we continue to deepen and strengthen our relationships with Indigenous Peoples across Canada. We are working every day to foster a model of shared stewardship to improve Indigenous involvement in fisheries, fisheries and oceans management, and the marine safety system.
“Since Budget 2017, the Government of Canada has invested significantly to renew and expand my department’s Indigenous programs. We recently reached a major milestone on this front thanks to our partnership with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute and the engagement of Indigenous communities on all coasts. Following a two-year review of our programs, we launched the Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and are moving forward with a co-development, co-design, co-delivery approach to our Indigenous programs. This means reinvesting in these programs and redesigning them alongside Indigenous peoples who best understand what is required to build capacity within their communities and institutions.
“We have been working with Indigenous and coastal communities to implement the historic Oceans Protection Plan. We continue to increase marine safety at the local level, through funding for Indigenous communities to buy search and rescue vessels and equipment to support their participation in the marine safety system as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. We are helping to improve incident response times, and ensuring that Indigenous communities have the tools they need to build on the vital role they play on the water.
“Indigenous peoples have always had a unique and distinct relationship with and reliance on the waters of their traditional territories. We must continue to recognize the value of Indigenous expertise and experience. By incorporating Indigenous knowledge into our planning and decision-making processes, we are tapping into generations of experience. I am proud to say that as a department, we are taking steps to recognize the interests and needs of Indigenous peoples and the relevance of Indigenous knowledge by ensuring the latter is incorporated into our habitat protection decisions as proposed in the amended Fisheries Act; creating a new Arctic region for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard in order to put Inuit and other Indigenous peoples in the North at the heart of our decision-making in their territories; and through Indigenous involvement in marine and coastal protection, marine conservation, and in the sustainable use of marine resources.
“During this month, and on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st