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Canada Implements Measures to Address Canada-US Border Crossing Issues for First Nations

 

Border-crossing issues represent a longstanding set of concerns for First Nations. Acting on recent reports from a Minister’s Special Representative and the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the Government of Canada is working in partnership with First Nation communities to address these concerns. In doing so, the Government recognizes that the border can present challenges to the mobility, traditional practices, and economic opportunities of First Nations people and pose obstacles to their family and cultural ties to Native American communities in the United States.

 

On December 12, 2018, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced they will be implementing the following measures to address Canada-United States border-crossing issues for First Nations. These measures include:

 

  1. The addition of a machine-readable zone to the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) card will help simplify the border crossing process for First Nations individuals using the SCIS as a piece of identification at land and sea ports of entry between Canada and the United-States.
  2. The recruitment by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) of more Indigenous border services officers;
  3. Enhanced training on Indigenous cultures for CBSA staff; and
  4. Strengthened outreach and cooperation by the CBSA with concerned First Nation communities along the Canada-United States border.

 

In addition to the above measures, the Government of Canada is making a commitment to a longer-term process with concerned First Nation communities to discuss potential solutions to a number of more complex border-crossing issues.

BACKGROUNDER:

Canada has been working in partnership with First Nation communities across the country to address long-standing Canada-United States border-crossing issues and concerns since 2016. This came in response to a Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples recommendation where Government subsequently committed to the appointment of a Minister’s Special Representative to examine First Nations’ Canada-US border-crossing challenges.

 

The eight-month examination process involved 21 engagement sessions with more than 100 First Nations and First Nation organizations across the country that culminated in the Minister’s Special Representative Fred Caron, presenting his final report to Carolyn Bennett, Minister Indigenous Crown Relations in August 2017. The report outlined several categories related to border-crossing issues raised during the aforementioned engagement process and identified 21 proposed solutions put forward by First Nations representatives.

 

Following a detailed review undertaken by a committee of Deputy Ministers representing seven concerned federal departments and agencies, the Government of Canada moved forward with a number of measures as outlined in Fred Caron’s report to address First Nations’ Canada-US border-crossing issues, drawing on the proposals put forward in the report including:

 

  • The addition of a machine-readable zone to the Secure Certificate of Indian Status;
  • The recruitment of more Indigenous border services officers by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA);
  • Enhanced training on Indigenous cultures for CBSA staff;
  • Strengthened outreach and cooperation with concerned First Nations communities along the Canada-United States border; and
  • A commitment to a longer-term process with concerned First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to discuss potential solutions to a number of more complex border-crossing challenges.

LINKS:

Minister’s Special Representative Report:

REPORT ON FIRST NATION BORDER CROSSING ISSUE

 

Government of Canada’s Press Release:

CANADA IMPLEMENTS MEASURES TO ADDRESS CANADA-UNITED STATES BORDER-CROSSING ISSUES FOR FIRST NATIONS