Government of Canada Partnering with Indigenous Communities to Enhance Marine Safety on the Coast of Labrador 

News release

November 24, 2020

Sheshatshiu and Natuashish, 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 $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 $461,298 for the Innu Nation communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish to purchase a search and rescue boat for each community, as well as related equipment.

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.


“The investment through the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program recognizes the critical partnership the Innu Nation has with the Canadian Coast Guard in protecting mariners, and their residents. Indigenous coastal communities have been stewards of the environment, the ocean, and its 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 as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.”

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

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

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

"This is a welcomed investment for Indigenous coastal communities in Labrador. With access to important search and rescue resources, these communities are now better equipped to help those in need. Not only will this help in the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary's future rescue missions, this investment will make a life saving difference in Labrador's coastal communities."

Yvonne Jones, Member of Parliament for Labrador

“Innu Nation is pleased to partner with the Canada Coast Guard under the Community Boat Program to establish the Innu Coast Guard Auxiliary in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.  These new boats have been named for the late elders, Edward Piwas, a long-serving member of the Innu Nation’s board of directors, and Antuan Penashue, the first Innu Fishery Guardian from Sheshatshiu.  Innu Nation members are now certified with marine environmental response and marine safety training, provided in partnership with the Canada Coast Guard.  We look forward to continued collaboration with Canada to apply our tradition of “Nakuatenita”, Innu stewardship of the land and water, and to building Innu capacity and resources.”

Deputy Grand Chief Mary Ann Nui, Innu Nation

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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