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Strengthening Ties Through Appreciation, Learning and Opportunity


June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples Day.  Across all our operations, we celebrate the unique heritage and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. 

 Boat with Mountains


With operations throughout the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador, the North Atlantic and in British Columbia, Atlantic Towing Limited has cultivated partnerships with Indigenous Canadian communities from coast to coast. These relationships are based on mutual respect, cooperation and an appreciation for the vital contributions Indigenous Peoples have made, and continue  to make, to the regions where we live and work. 

On the East Coast, Atlantic Towing  is working with Nova Scotia Community College's Nautical Institute (Port Hawkesbury, NS), to support an exciting new Federal initiative aiming to attract more female and Indigenous learners to the marine industry. Through the program, female and Indigenous students can apply to have 90% of costs for eligible courses covered, with funding provided via Canada's Oceans Protection Plan. A key part of this is Atlantic Towing’s cadet program that provides experience opportunities for students interested in careers at-sea

 Osprey in open water


Atlantic Towing continues to grow its presence on Canada's West Coast. Since 2018, two of its Emergency Towing Vessels have been working with the Canadian Coast Guard, patrolling BC's coastal waters and contributing to Canada's Oceans Protection Plan. Since that time, the company has been actively engaging with several Coastal First Nation Communities. In April, 2019 a number of new relationships were announced: a Joint Venture Agreement between Songhees Seafood & Steam and ESS-Compass Group Canada to supply food aboard the vessels; a contract with Salish Sea Industrial Services to provide vessel maintenance; and, a plan to implement Bridgewatch and Culinary training programs for local students via Camosun College. 

 Indigenous Day


 People in hard hats


Further, in March 2020, Atlantic Towing announced approximately $750,000 in funding to support a new, state-of-the-art marine simulator for Camosun College, a community college located in Greater Victoria, serving approximately 19,000 students. Funds will be allocated over a three-year period by Irving Shipbuilding, Inc. in an agreement brokered by Atlantic Towing. The upgrade will allow Camosun to offer a wider range of courses and develop a Cadet/Bridgewatch program, growing the number of marine professionals entering a vital industry. 

Camosun College operates two campuses on the Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples on Vancouver Island, and its Camosun Costal Centre is housed on Songhees Nation Territory. The establishment of a Bridgewatch program will allow potential cadets (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to stay on Vancouver Island to complete their training. Currently, students interested in seafaring or marine services must leave the island to receive necessary training.

 Propeller funding


"Through our partnerships with several Indigenous communities, we have seen increased access to training and opportunities for youth and young adults," said Gilles Gagnon, Vice President and General Manager of Atlantic Towing. "The marine sector needs them. It needs people who can bring diverse experiences and perspectives to the industry. We will continue working with local communities and educational partners in an ongoing effort to protect our oceans for generations to come." 

Headquartered in Saint John, NB, Atlantic Towing. specializes in the provision of diverse marine services including port tug services, coastal towing, offshore oil and gas exploration, and product support. The company has been federally recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, with the 2018 Employment Equity Achievement Award for Innovation, and the 2019 Employment Equity Achievement Award for Sector Distinction.


Community Resilience in Canada’s North

Whether applied to nations, communities, or individuals, a common thread of resilience is that it focuses on the ability to cope with and respond to adversity. Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy at St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX), and his research partner, Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer, Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North at Trent University, have launched a project exploring the contributions that the Canadian Rangers and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary make to community resilience in the North.

The sponsorship of a Chair in Arctic Policy at St. FX is part of our Value Proposition commitment to create a sustainable marine industry as part of our involvement in the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Within this program, the Halifax Shipyard is currently constructing Canada's future naval combat fleet. To date, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has committed more than $16 million in Value Proposition investments across Canada.

The overarching objective of the Research Chair program is to generate new and innovative research into Canada’s evolving arctic and maritime security concerns. This is of particular significance to Irving Shipbuilding as the prime contractor for Canada’s new class of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships for the Royal Canadian Navy, who will employ these ships in the Canadian north for decades to come. Dr. Kikkert’s appointment is contributing to this objective through his focus on Arctic policy, particularly issues pertaining to northern safety, security, emergency preparedness and response, and Indigenous community relations.

The Canadian Rangers are part of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve that provide a military presence in Canada's northern, coastal, and isolated areas. Given the breadth and depth of their involvement at the community-level, Canadian Ranger patrols, as well as Coast Guard Auxiliary units, can be tied to two main categories or components of resilience: community-based disaster resilience and community resilience more generally. Community-based disaster resilience focuses on how communities mitigate, prepare and plan for, respond to, and recover from disasters at the local level. Community resilience deals with the ability of a community to cope and adjust to environmental, social, and political change, while using community resources to tackle the challenges and opportunities created by these changes.

Kikkert, Lackenbauer, and their community partners are tracking the ways in which the Ranger and Auxiliary units contribute to everything from search and rescue operations and disaster management, to the creation of social networks, skill development, and the transmission of traditional knowledge. They are also exploring how the efforts and impact of these community-based organizations can be strengthened and amplified in the future.

In support of this objective, this project will also yield recommendations on how the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard can better support Ranger patrols and Auxiliary units, while also determining how these community assets can be employed as force multipliers during emergencies, disasters, and other safety scenarios.In doing so, this research project contributes to a key platform of the federal government’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework: “Increase whole-of-society emergency management capabilities in Arctic and Northern communities.

 St. FX students
Kikkert with 2nd year StFX students Chloe Walker and Bailey Chisholm outside Kugluktuk, Nunavut in February 2020.  


Since the spring of 2019, Kikkert and Lackenbauer have been exploring these topics through focus groups, interviews, and capacity-mapping workshops in communities and at Ranger and Junior Canadian Ranger leadership meetings. Moving forward, the project will also involve tabletop and functional exercises in select communities to explore and assess roles and responses in an array of emergency situations.

Through funds provided by Irving Shipbuilding, Kikkert has been able to provide four undergraduate research associates with salaries, food, and travel costs. These students have been able to travel to Nunavut’s Kitikmeot Region, participate in meetings, and learn how to conduct respectful community-collaborative research that is vital to improving emergency preparedness in the North.

Kikkert meeting with members of the Gjoa Haven Ranger Patrol in October 2019. 


 Students in front of sign
4th year StFX students Marcus Cuomo and Brenna Martell at the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in October 2019.