Support volunteer first responders: NDP on anniversary of Tofino accident

Media release


October 25, 2016


OTTAWA - On Tuesday, the first anniversary of the Tofino whale-watching accident where six lives were lost, NDP MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to provide training and equipment to local volunteer first responders.

“In remote coastal communities, residents with local or traditional knowledge of the waters are often the first responders in crisis situations,” Johns said, remembering how members of the Ahousaht First Nation were the first on the scene following the capsizing of the Leviathan II and began pulling survivors from the frigid waters.

Johns praises the local heroes of his home town of Tofino, including members of Ahousaht Nation and Tla-o-qui-aht Nation, marine tour operators, and local residents whose swift actions prevented further loss of life. He notes the accident near Tofino highlighted the need to provide training and equipment to volunteers, especially in remote coastal communities where response times are longer for emergency services.

“We need to equip our local communities with the proper resources to aid in search and rescue and prevent the loss of life,” Johns said. “My motion will support the Coast Guard while honouring those who we have lost as well as the heroes who helped save 21 lives, one year ago.”

This motion comes a day after members of the Ahousaht First Nation were honoured with Red Cross Canada’s Rescuer Award for their courage and skill for their efforts surrounding the Levitathan II on October 25th 2015.


Full text of the motion:

"That in the opinion of this House, given the events surrounding the sinking of the Leviathan II on October 25, 2015, and the important role local traditional knowledge played in the rescue of survivors, the government should allocate resources and provide training and equipment to volunteer first responders in remote coastal communities to prevent the loss of life, provide support for the Canadian Coast Guard, and aid in search and rescue."

Video of Gord John’s Statement in the House in December 2015 on the accident.