Government of Canada Partnering with Indigenous Coastal Communities to Enhance Marine Safety Across the Country

News release

August 8, 2019

Miawpukek First Nation, Newfoundland and Labrador — 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 plan, in 2017 the Canadian Coast Guard launched the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. Under this program, communities are able to build up their on-water search and rescue capacity, and are provided with the necessary funding to purchase boats, and the required equipment to do so. This is an investment in the safety and prosperity of coastal communities, and that strengthens the capacity of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Today, Member of Parliament for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame Scott Simms, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, officially presented a community boat to the Miawpukek First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador, and participated in the vessel’s Dedication to Service ceremony.

MP Simms also announced $2.7 million in funding for 14 communities, including the Miawpukek First Nation, who is receiving funding under year two of the Community Boat program. This investment will support these Coast Guard Auxiliary members in coastal regions across Canada, to be better equipped and prepared to respond to marine emergencies to maintain the safety of their community and the security of their 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. There is no question, Canadians on all three coasts need the women and men of the Auxiliary to be well equipped and effectively supported in their critically important work.

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“Indigenous coastal communities have been the stewards of our shores and our waters for millennia, and are unquestionably vital to Canada’s marine safety system today. Investment through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program not only recognizes this critical role, but through this program, the government is able to provide the necessary funding and equipment for these communities to continue to be involved in the protection of mariners, and of their residents.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“I am pleased to witness first-hand how the community boat pilot program is helping build partnerships between the Canadian Coast Guard and coastal communities like the Miawpukek First Nation. It is important that local Coast Guard Auxiliary members are equipped to respond to emergencies on their local waters.”

Scott Simms, Member of Parliament for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame

“Miawpukek First Nation is extremely pleased to have new Coast Guard Auxiliary members operating out of Miawpukek. We would like to thank the Canadian Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program for assisting with the acquisition of the dedicated community response vessel. The presence of this vessel, in addition to a highly trained crew in the Coast of Bays area, will provide greater peace of mind to all boaters should they require assistance.”

Chief Misel Joe, Miawpukek First Nation

Quick facts

  • The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Program is a four-year pilot program, which began in 2017. The Canadian Coast Guard continues to meet 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.

  • 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.

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Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

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