Beecher Bay, 15 May 2023
KOTUG Canada Inc. (“KOTUG”), and Sc’ianew First Nation have signed a Mutual Benefits Agreement (“MBA”), outlining details of the unique and meaningful partnership that supports KOTUG Canada’s long-term agreement with Trans Mountain for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (“TMEP”). The agreement encompasses the provision and operation of a Spill Response Vessel and two Escort Tugs to support the TMEP in close coordination with the Sc’ianew.
Training & Career Development of Community Members
The MBA shows KOTUG Canada’s commitment to respecting Sc’ianew culture, traditions, and historical connection within the Nation’s territorial waters. The agreement includes the related training and development of Sc’ianew community members to ensure they gain the necessary experience and knowledge in the field of advanced safe tug operations and marine response. Importantly, the partnership between KOTUG Canada and the Sc’ianew First Nation provides vessel crews opportunities to learn from traditional knowledge and operate with respect and appreciation of the unique natural habitat of British Columbia’s coastal environment.
In preparation for the upcoming TMEP, KOTUG Canada has worked closely with the Beecher Bay community to create new career opportunities and train Sc’ianew marine cadets on KOTUG Canada and parent company vessels. This provides Indigenous cadets with mandatory experience and knowledge in advanced safe tug operations and marine response. The cadets trained on the Horizon Arctic and the oil-spill-response-vessel (OSRV) in the North Sea and will return home to BC and join the crew of the K.J. Gardner, a 187 tonnes bollard pull anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel, suitably equipped for enhanced spill response duties as well as emergency towage and support duties.
Floating docking facility at Sc’ianew territory
Another important element that the Mutual Benefits Agreement (MBA)outlines is installing and operating a new floating docking facility in Cheanuh Marina in Beecher Bay, British Columbia. This floating docking facility consists of an existing barge that will be refitted and transformed to act as a breakwater and a berthing facility for KOTUG Canada’s OSRV and two (2) dedicated Escort Tugs.
Signing the MBA represents a major milestone in KOTUG Canada’s partnership with the Sc’ianew First Nation, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, strategically located along the Trans Mountain Shipping lanes. Using Beecher Bay as KOTUG Canada’s home base for its operations allows for fast response times in case of emergencies. Additionally, the barge supports further enhancement of the Cheanuh Marina commercial activities in Beecher Bay within Sc’ianew Territory.
To protect the environment and delicate marine life in our oceans, all KOTUG Canada vessels will be coated with a revolutionary non-toxic vessel hull coating developed in Canada by Graphite Innovation & Technologies that reduces underwater radiated noise. Further, KOTUG Canada has strict policies in place to reduce any impact on the environment.
This partnership creates career and development opportunities for Indigenous Peoples that extend beyond Canada’s borders and across the world’s oceans.
Call to Action #92 from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called upon the corporate sector to:
- Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
- Ensure Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
- Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.
“At KOTUG Canada, we know that reconciliation is an ongoing process and that our work is to continue to learn and implement new ways of thinking and doing business as we go forward,” said Steve Widmeyer, Director of KOTUG Canada. “This partnership advances local career opportunities for Indigenous seafarers. Most importantly, it will give our crews a unique opportunity to learn traditional knowledge and operate with respect and appreciation for the natural habitat of British Columbia’s coastal environment. We value the Sc’ianew First Nation’s important role as Ocean Protection Advocates.”
Chief Russ Chipps, Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay): “We are very proud to take this next step in strengthening our partnership with KOTUG Canada. The MBA allows Sc’ianew First Nation to meet a broad range of objectives in relation to the changing reality of the west coast marine economy. Furthermore, it allows our Nation to fully participate in the growing economy within our traditional waters. It fits our vision to be a community whose Chief and Council provide economic opportunities through residential and commercial development, training and careers, while protecting the people’s lands, resources, language, and cultural knowledge. Finally, it will contribute to our mental well-being and health.”
Sharon Jay (Director) Board Chair of the MMLP (M’i nuw’ilum Marina Ltd. Partnership): “The MBA aligns with Canada’s goals for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The agreement is consistent with the principles articulated in the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights, and together, our strong commitment to First Nations, social responsibility and sustainability will successfully support the TMEP’s environment-focused safety initiatives.”