Government Commitments


The Government of Canada invests in Indigenous communities to enhance community-based marine response capacity as part of the Oceans Protection Plan

February 23, 2024

Nationtalk: Canadian Coast Guard, Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous communities across the country to improve safety on the water through the Oceans Protection Plan. Indigenous communities are often the first to respond to marine incidents in remote areas and are an instrumental partner in our search and rescue system.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, announced $3.6M in funding for nine communities through the renewed Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Program under the second phase of the Oceans Protection Plan: Coral Harbour Niviuqtiit in Nunavut; Namgis First Nation, Nuxalk Nation and Wuikinuxv First Nation in British Columbia; Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario; Crees of Waskaganish First Nation in Quebec; Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik in New Brunswick; Nunatukavut Community Council in Newfoundland and Labrador; and We’koqma’q (Waycobah) First Nation in Nova Scotia.

This funding will be used to support Indigenous communities in purchasing a boat and equipment to participate in the marine safety response system as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

To date, 49 Indigenous communities or organizations in ten provinces and territories have received over $15.6 million in funding to buy or retrofit boats and related safety equipment. The program will continue to help communities build, enhance, or sustain their capacity to respond to marine search and rescue incidents.

The Oceans Protection Plan is a Canadian success story. When Indigenous Peoples, industry, communities, scientists, and government work together to protect our people and environment, grow our economy, and support good jobs across the country, we deliver real results. A renewed and expanded Oceans Protection Plan will keep our oceans and coasts safe and healthy, advance reconciliation, and build a clean future for our children and grandchildren.


“Continuing to invest in partnerships with Indigenous communities to strengthen their ability to respond to incidents in their surrounding waters is a key priority of the Oceans Protection Plan. This funding will continue to support Indigenous communities’ ability to be active members in the marine response network.”

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Indigenous Peoples and communities play an essential role in safeguarding our coasts and waterways. Today’s investment, through the Oceans Protection Program, reaffirms Canada’s commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples. Together, we are fostering a safer and stronger marine future.”

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport

“Equipping Indigenous communities in remote areas with the tools they need to quickly respond to marine incidents is an integral step towards expanding our marine safety system. With this new funding under the Oceans Protection Plan, we are ensuring a safer and cleaner future for generations to come.”

Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“When a marine incident happens in remote coastal areas, members of Indigenous communities are often the first to respond. Their knowledge of local waters is invaluable. With this new funding, members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary will be able to continue to play a key role in response.”

Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Coast Guard launched the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Program in 2017, under the Oceans Protection Plan, to strengthen coastal communities’ capacity to participate in maritime search and rescue activities.
  • The boats and other equipment bought under this program meet the standards of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and Transport Canada.
  • In partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard, Indigenous communities, as members of the Auxiliary, provide marine search and rescue services, promote marine safety, and conduct coastal safety patrols.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization comprised of 4,000 volunteer members with access to approximately 1,000 vessels that augment the Government of Canada’s maritime search and rescue response capacity.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary responds to approximately 25 per cent of maritime calls for assistance annually, providing an often lifesaving service.
  • Since 2016, the Government of Canada has dedicated $3.5 billion to the Oceans Protection Plan, making it the largest investment Canada has ever made to protect its coasts and waterways.
  • Since its launch, the Oceans Protection Plan has:
    • established new Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue stations in:
      • Victoria, Hartley Bay, and Tahsis, British Columbia
      • St. Anthony, Old Perlican, and Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
      • Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
    • re-established the Canadian Coast Guard’s Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to better coordinate on-the-water responses to maritime search and rescue incidents
    • established 24/7 operations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s Regional Operations Centres. The centres monitor and assess marine incidents (including pollution events)

Associated links


Jérémy Collard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada