This month marks 50 years since Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker created the Canadian Coast Guard, charging the agency to ensure the safety of the nation's waterways by offering dedicated search and rescue services, maintaining Arctic sovereignty, and responding to technical advances and increasing vessel traffic. Those familiar red and white hulls have rightly become part of the national heritage and a reassuring symbol of service and security to Canadians.
"This is just the beginning of a year-long tribute to the Canadian Coast Guard, and all it represents for Canadians," said Chatham-Kent-Essex MP Dave Van Kesteren during a private kick-off celebration that took place Jan. 26 at Sarnia Government Dock on the CCGS Samuel Risley. "Many federal organizations, including Canada Post and the Bank of Canada are getting involved and partnering with the Coast Guard to commemorate this golden jubilee."
On Jan. 26, 1962, the Honourable Léon Balcer, then Minister of Transport, announced the creation of the Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard fleet was a part of Transport Canada up until 1995 when it was moved to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and where in 2005, it became a Special Operating Agency under the DFO.
The agency believes that it's important to honour the past, but has said that the federal government is working hard to ensure the Coast Guard can look forward to a bright future as well. Coast Guard officials say more than $1.4 billion has been invested to modernize the fleet and to ensure personnel have the right tools and training.
That investment includes critical funding for the new “Hero Class” mid-shore patrol vessels, as well as for fishery science vessels, which provide platforms to support scientific research in Canadian waters. The new Hero Class vessels will be for maritime security and fisheries enforcement off Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts and for both marine search and rescue missions and marine pollution control. Four of the vessels will provide security on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway with Sarnia being used a base of operations.
While inaugural celebrations took place all over Canada to kick off the golden jubilee anniversary of the agency, some local Coast Guard employees currently stationed in Iqaluit had the opportunity to hoist the commemorate flag in that bigger than life setting. This photo was taken at an inaugural ceremony that took place in Iqaluit and depicts two local Guard employees along side two others from the northern detachment.
Jeff English of Sarnia, Bobby Christensen and Ron Trudel of Iqaluit, and Kevin Drake of Sarnia, all employees of the Canadian Coast Guard, helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Coast Guard on Jan. 25 in Iqaluit by raising a flag while standing on a ridge overlooking Iqaluit in a -46 wind-chill. The four Coast Guard workers ensure that marine radio systems and other crucial equipment are in service for mariners sailing through Arctic waters.
The CCG encourages the public to visit their Golden Jubilee anniversary website to not only learn about the agency's distinct history and bright future, but to find out about all of the celebrations taking place around the nation all year.