First Cohort of Aboriginal Fishery Guardians Trained in Québec
Last March, four Inuit members of Nunavik communities from the Kativik Regional Government came to Québec City to participate in the Aboriginal Fishery Guardians training. Through their participation in the training, they obtained fishery guardian certification under subsection 5(1) of the Fisheries Act.
During the 10 or so days of training, they developed expertise in fish identification, fishing gear, legislation and regulations, methods of applying regulations, court testimony, using GPS devices and giving effective presentations.
Most of the training was provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff. The friendly atmosphere in the class helped a great deal in encouraging those involved to share their expertise and experiences, and in building relationships of trust between the trainers and the Inuit participants. These relationships will be tremendously useful in their work, as they will be communicating and collaborating with teams in Quebec on a regular basis. The participants also appreciated that the training was adapted to their reality in northern Quebec. It is usually held at the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Offering national fishery guardian training is a way for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to show its commitment to the integration of Aboriginal peoples into the fishery officer position, in accordance with current treaty requirements and Supreme Court of Canada judgments.
Aboriginal Fishery Guardians:
- are employees of an Aboriginal community or organization;
- are designated by the Minister under the Fisheries Act;
- work closely with the Department.
Their responsibilities can include:
- patrols and monitoring harvesting activities;
- information activities;
- the right to enforce regulations, for example, seizing catches and equipment, issuing warnings, taking statements or testimony in court;
- observing activities, preparing reports and liaising with fishery officers.