Government of Canada partnering with Indigenous coastal communities to enhance marine safety in Northwest Territories

News release

November 6, 2020

Northwest Territories - 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 $255,178 for Hay River to purchase a search and rescue boat, related equipment, and $276,632 for Inuvik to purchase a search and rescue boat and a life raft.

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 the Northwest Territories and play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“Inuvik and Hay River will enhance their search and rescue capacity with the purchase of these new boats just like Yellowknife and Tuktoyaktuk was able to do through last years’ funding provided by the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. These are great investments to increase the safety of our communities and strengthen the capacity of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.”

Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

“Hay River Marine Rescue Society has been offering search and rescue services to the Great Slave Lake for many years. As the years go by, equipment ages and requires replacing. Having the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program available to small communities, units like our own are provided with the opportunity to update our vessel and rescue equipment. Having a new vessel with updated technology not only builds members confidence when out on the water, it provides the community with the best rescue equipment for their safety.”

David Stanga, Unit Leader, Hay River Auxiliary

“The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program has been a lifesaver for our community and the Inuvik Marine Rescue Unit. The new vessel arriving in early 2021 will improve our response times, search range, and payload capabilities—all contributing to a safer oceanic region for the local Indigenous populations as well as other users of the local waterways within the Mackenzie Delta. The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot  Program will also serve as a spectacular opportunity for increased engagement and active participation between the Inuvik Marine Rescue Unit and local community members, thereby working to continue increasing Indigenous membership in the Auxiliary for years to come.”

Paul MacDonald, Unit Leader, Inuvik Auxiliary

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.

Associated links


Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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