An established partnership between the federal government and Indigenous coastal communities will help enhance marine safety going forward. As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, $2 million in funding will be provided for ten coastal communities for the purchase of boats and other safety equipment. 

Oceans Protection Plan 

The Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer program was launched by the Canadian Coast Guard in 2017 as part of the Oceans Protection Plan. The aim is to improve the capacity of coastal communities to help with marine search and rescue activities, and also provide training. One goal of the program is to help members of Indigenous communities to become new members of the Canadian Coast Guard auxiliary. 


To date, Indigenous communities on all three coasts have received over $12 million in funding to purchase or improve safety equipment and boats. In the next phase of the program, communities will expand and enhance their capabilities to deal with marine search and rescue incidents. 

Where Safety Meets Opportunity 

The Oceans Protection Plan is the largest amount of funding ever provided to ensure the safety of Canada’s waterways. The plan is in place to ensure marine safety combined with economic opportunity and additionally helps keep waters clean. There have been plenty of close collaboration between local stakeholders, Indigenous peoples, coastal communities, and the government to make the plan happen. 

What People Are Saying 

According to Joyce Murray, Minister of Fishers, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: “Indigenous coastal community members play an important role in marine safety. They are often the first to arrive on the scene when incidents happen in remote coastal areas. Working together, the Canadian Coast Guard and Indigenous partners are making communities safer for all.”

Stephen McGregor, a Marine Liaison Officer for the Whitefish River First Nation, notes: “The Indigenous Community Boat Program has been a positive experience for Whitefish River First Nation. The Canadian Coast Guard’s commitment to our community’s safety is evident in the efforts of the staff involved in the program.”

The Program Relies on Volunteers

Three key pillars of the program, for Indigenous communities who are auxiliary members of the Canadian Coast Guard, are marine search and rescue, promoting marine safety through education, and coastal safety patrols. 

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of 4,000 volunteer members with access to 1,100 vessels that augment the government’s maritime search and rescue capability. 

To learn more about this partnership, visit the Government of Canada website