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Strengthening Marine Safety in British Columbia – Government of Canada and Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nations Announce Launch of New Response Vessels

Two new dedicated response vessels under the Canadian Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program were launched as announced by the Government of Canada and the Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nations. The Quatsino and Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nations are members of the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary. They work and train with the Canadian Coast Guard, providing marine response within their respective traditional territories.

“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,” says the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

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 under the Oceans Protection Plan. 35 Indigenous coastal communities across the country have received over $10 million in total funding to date. These funds are to purchase or repair boats and related equipment.

Coastal British Columbia Nations have a long history of responding to marine emergencies. They are the holders of extensive traditional knowledge of the local waters and conditions in their traditional territories. The Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary is the first of its kind in Canada. It is made up of more than 50 members from Ahousaht, Heiltsuk, Gitxaala, Nisga’a, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Quatsino and Kyuquot/Cheklesahht First Nations.

The Quatsino Spirit is the Quatsino First Nation’s new response vessel. It is a 27-foot vessel capable of cruising at 44.5 knots and is already in service. Members of the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary from the Quatsino First Nation recently participated in two search and rescue training exercises with the Canadian Coast Guard on the CCGS John P. Tully

James Wallas, Quatsino First Nation, Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary Board Director said, “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 alongside the Canadian Coast Guard to continually improve our skills and to be ‘Mission Ready’. Gi’lakas’la.”

Search and rescue in the waters around the Great Bear Rainforest will be supported by the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation in their new response vessel, the Ksm Wutsi’in (Mousewoman). This is a 30-foot vessel capable of cruising at 25 knots.

The Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways at $1.5 billion. This national plan serves to strengthen Canada’s world-leading marine safety system. It also provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. All of this work is done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.

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