Reconciliation at core of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard’s work

News release

June 21, 2019

Ottawa, Ontario — There is no relationship more important to the Government of Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. Our government is committed to advancing a renewed relationship with Indigenous communities, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. We are working to modernize and strengthen the structures within the federal government to support Indigenous capacity building and support the vision of self-determination.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, marked National Indigenous Peoples Day by announcing that Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are committing to a whole-of-department, long-term approach to advancing meaningful Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the areas of fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways. With this commitment, the Department is developing a Reconciliation strategy.

This new Reconciliation strategy will guide team members to:

  •  acknowledge the historic relationship that Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has with Indigenous peoples;
  • strengthen existing relationships, tools and processes;
  • ensure strong collaboration with Indigenous peoples in renewing laws, policies, programs and operational practices;
  •  adjust approaches to best fit with geographic, cultural, social, economic and capacity needs and differences;
  • support predictability and stability in operations and the delivery of service;
  • combine activities where feasible to facilitate efficient processes and help build capacity;
  • ensure coordination within the Department and with other government departments;
  •  provide the necessary time required to build and strengthen relationships, acknowledging that reconciliation is a long-term commitment; and,
  • be inclusive – of rights-holders, stakeholders, provincial/territorial governments and all Canadians.

The new strategy is an internal guide that will support employees in understanding why and how effective Reconciliation is so significant in their day-to-day work. This approach is one of the first of its kind among federal government departments. This is a practical plan of action. We will implement a process for tracking and reporting on results, will continue to evolve over time to adapt to changing needs and feedback, while building on achieved successes and experience. The Department will work with Indigenous partners and departmental stakeholders in the evolution and implementation of the strategy.

The new strategy announced today builds on work the Department is already doing across the country to strengthen the relationship with Indigenous communities, and to recognize self-determination and reduce socio-economic gaps. This work includes:

  • significant new investments to renew and expand departmental Indigenous programs;
  • implementation of the Ocean’s Protection Plan, in cooperation with Indigenous and coastal communities with programs like the Coastal Restoration Fund to find community lead solutions to better protect and recover our coasts;
  • recognition of Indigenous knowledge by ensuring it is incorporated into habitat protection decisions, as contained in an amended Fisheries Act; and
  • the creation of a new Arctic region, in order to put the Inuit and other northern Indigenous people at the heart of our decision-making.

Today’s announcement lines up with our government’s and our Department’s commitment to recognize and implement Indigenous and treaty rights related to fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways in a manner consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the federal Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. 


“Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, every Canadian has a heightened opportunity to recognize and reflect on not only the importance of Indigenous values, cultures and traditions, but on the tremendous ongoing contributions to the fabric of this country from Indigenous communities from coast, to coast, to coast. There is no relationship more important to our government than the one with Indigenous Peoples. At Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard we are coming through on this commitment. We recognize this and are working on a roadmap for the whole Department, to help advance Reconciliation at every working level. This new strategy is a concrete step toward transformative change in how our key federal department approaches engagement with Indigenous communities. As we continue to move forward and expand on our collaborative efforts with Indigenous peoples, these partners are integral to the evolution and implementation of my department’s reconciliation strategy.”

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


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

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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