Government of Canada and Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nations Announce Launch of New Response Vessels to Strengthen Marine Safety in British Columbia
February 14, 2022
Victoria, British Columbia - The Government of Canada and the Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nations are pleased to announce the arrival and launch of two new dedicated response vessels under the Canadian Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. The Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nations are members of the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary, and work and train with the Canadian Coast Guard, providing marine response within their respective traditional territories.
Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program provides communities with funding to purchase boats that are built for their specific needs and marine environment. To date, 35 Indigenous coastal communities across the country have received over $10 million in total funding to purchase or repair boats and related equipment.
Coastal British Columbia Nations have a long history of responding to marine emergencies and hold extensive traditional knowledge of the local waters and conditions in their traditional territories. The Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary is Canada’s first all-Indigenous Coast Guard Auxiliary, with more than 50 members from Ahousaht, Heiltsuk, Gitxaala, Nisga’a, Kitasoo Xai'xais, Quatsino and Kyuquot/Cheklesahht First Nations.
The Quatsino First Nation’s new response vessel, the Quatsino Spirit, is a 27-foot vessel capable of cruising at 44.5 knots. The new vessel is already in service, with members of the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary from the Quatsino First Nation participating in two recent search and rescue training exercises with the Canadian Coast Guard on the CCGS John P. Tully.
The Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation will support search and rescue in the waters around the Great Bear Rainforest in their new response vessel, the Ksm Wutsi'in (Mousewoman), a 30-foot vessel capable of cruising at 25 knots.
The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is strengthening Canada’s world-leading marine safety system, providing 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.
“Indigenous communities like Quatsino First Nation and Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation are often first on scene in a marine emergency. Funding for these community response vessels is one way our government is helping making the coast of British Columbia safer. This fund will help increase the chance that someone involved in a marine incident will get home to their family.”
The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“I would like to hold up all that had a hand in making these dedicated search and rescue vessels a reality. Let me also celebrate our Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary crew volunteers who are the marine search and rescue backbone of our community. These vessels will allow our volunteers to deliver top notch search and rescue services, provide care alongside our mission partners and neighbors in providing effective marine search and rescue services for people in distress.”
Alec Dick, Coastal Nations-Coast Guard Auxiliary Board Chair
“As the Executive Director of Coastal Nation Coast Guard Auxiliary, Canada’s first Indigenous led Coast Guard Auxiliary, I’ve seen the organization grow significantly, in just a short time. I foremost recognize the critical role of these dedicated search and rescue vessels and their importance to members of the Auxiliary in protecting mariners and coastal communities. Our crews are simply the most experienced stewards of the marine environment and are unquestionably vital to Canada's marine safety system today.”
Conrad J.S. Cowan, Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary Executive Director
“We are now equipped, trained, and looking forward to providing exceptional service while on call and on regular patrols to ensure safety on the water. Our crew welcomes the new search and rescue vessel Quatsino Spirit and is looking forward to operating along side the Canadian Coast Guard to continually improve our skills and to be ‘Mission Ready’.
James Wallas, Quatsino First Nation, Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary Board Director
“As coastal Indigenous people, Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation have been responding to mariners in distress for thousands of years, whether those in need of rescue come from our Nations, or are guests to our waters. Having a dedicated search and rescue vessel will potentially help rescue more people and protect the lives of rescuers. This last piece is critical towards harnessing the power of local knowledge of the waters and the areas.”
Doug Fraser, Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nations, Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary (alternate) Board Director
Quatsino First Nation has received $368,215.00 under the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program for a dedicated response vessel and safety equipment.
Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation has received $252,114.00 under the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program for a dedicated response vessel and safety equipment.
The Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary (CN-CGA) was sponsored by the Government of Canada and incorporated in mid-2018 with the purpose of providing organized voluntary marine search and rescue services in remote coastal areas of British Columbia.
The CN-CGA is an all-Indigenous volunteer organization that augments the marine search and rescue capacity in federally mandated waters as official partners of the Canadian Coast Guard.
CN-CGA volunteers are trained in cold water rescue, search techniques, marine first aid, inter-agency communications protocols, and the use of specialized rescue equipment by the Canadian Coast Guard. CN-CGA members also exercise and train on the water with the Canadian Coast Guard and other first responders in their communities, and are on-call to respond to marine emergencies 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year in remote areas along the B.C. coastline.
The objective of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary program is to provide strategically located, trained and qualified members and vessels that are prepared and available to support Canadian Coast Guard activities.
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.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard
Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary
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