Canada’s federal government announced $1.5 million for marine safety infrastructure for several Inuit-based organizations this week.
The money is meant to bolster marine search-and-rescue capacity in the North. To that end, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard will invest in marine rescue equipment and new boat shelters for Kugluktuk Marine Rescue, Aivilik Marine Search and Rescue Society, Sanirajak Search and Rescue Society, Igloolik Marine Society, Aklavik Search and Rescue Society, and Nunaturlik Land Holding Corporation of Kangiqsujuaq.
The funds flow through the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Indigenous Community boat volunteer pilot program, which supports Indigenous communities in building their on-water search-and-rescue capacity.
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, which first launched in 2016, now counts 4,000 volunteer members across the North to assist the federal government’s maritime search and rescue response capacity.
The auxiliary responds to roughly 25 percent of maritime calls for assistance each year, the Department of Fisheries estimates.
“Inuit have long provided local emergency response, often at great risk and personal cost,” said Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed in a news release, responding to the announcement.
“The investments announced today demonstrate a new commitment to begin bridging the gap between Canadian Coast Guard operations in Inuit Nunangat and the rest of Canada.”