Smoke drifted through the salty air Monday as Halifax’s new lifeboat, bearing the Mi’kmaq name of the port it floats on, was officially greeted with applause and a cleansing ceremony.
The Kjipuktuk (Halifax), the new Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Port fire rescue boat, sprayed long jets of water as it prepared for Monday’s dedication ceremony at the Alderney ferry terminal in Dartmouth.
Kjipuktuk, which means “great port”, was the name the Mi’kmaq first gave to the port and the Halifax area.
âIt’s important to see our language and culture integrated into everyday things like this pump boat. It is heartwarming and it is truly necessary, âChief Deborah Robinson of the Assembly of Mi’kmaw Chiefs of Nova Scotia said at the event.
âWe are on the right path to reconciliation here at HRM and I hope we can continue to see the same, not only hereâ¦ but across our land for our Indigenous brothers and sisters across Canada. “
After staining the ship itself, Elder Mi’kmaw Jane Abram presented the crew of the Kjipuktuk with a gift of tobacco to keep on board.
The nearly $ 1.3 million craft was delivered last month, and crew members have been training on the ship since then. It replaces the fire department’s existing rigid-hull inflatable boat, which had little fire-fighting capability and could not stay in the water year round.
Halifax Fire Chief Ken Stuebing said they have been working for a few years to purchase the new boat, which was built in Kingston, Ont., By MetalCraft Marine and has a lifespan of up to at 30 years old.
After the event, said Stuebing, since the new boat can fight fires from the water, areas like Purdy’s Wharf or Alderney Landing can now be protected from all sides in the event of a fire.
For their roughly two rescue calls per month, Stuebing said they can now respond much faster – even during the winter months – which makes a “big difference” to someone’s chances of survival. if he went in the water.
The Kjipuktuk also has space below decks for the crew to stay warm and safe in bad and cold weather, unlike the old inflatable boat.
The new boat can be used 24/7 and stay docked at Alderney Landing year round. It can deliver over 3,000 gallons of water per minute, which Stuebing says is roughly the same capacity as two trucks.
Its primary roles will be firefighting and rescue services in Halifax Harbor and nearby islands, shores, marinas and waterfront buildings.
Stuebing said he was proud of the Halifax Fire members for suggesting “the right name,” which was ultimately chosen among many other suggestions after consulting with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Indigenous advisers.
Not only is the name Kjipuktuk an important step towards reconciliation and building better relationships with Indigenous peoples, Stuebing said, but shows that Halifax Fire is representative of the community it serves.
âIt’s importantâ¦ that people see themselves in our organization. So not only will they understand that we respect that fairness and diversity within the community for the calls we participate in, but alsoâ¦ they might be interested in considering a career with us, âsaid Stuebing.
The ship’s call sign will remain Fire Boat 1.
The boat is operated by staff from Station # 13 (King Street), with support from Station # 15 (Woodside). It should be fully operational by fall, once training is complete.