FYI: First Nation Border-Crossing

Posted on February 15, 2019

Canada implements measures to address Canada – United-States border-crossing issues for First Nations

From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

News release

December 12, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Border-crossing issues represent a longstanding set of concerns for First Nations, dating back to the creation of the Canada-United States (US) border in the late 18th century.

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.

Today, 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:

  • 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.

  • The recruitment by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) of more Indigenous border services officers;

  • Enhanced training on Indigenous cultures for CBSA staff; and

  • 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 Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to discuss potential solutions to a number of more complex border-crossing issues.

The implementation of these measures draws on the proposals contained in the 2017 Report on First Nations Border Crossing Issues by Minister’s Special Representative Fred Caron.

Mr. Caron’s report was the result of an eight-month process involving 21 engagement sessions with representatives from more than 100 First Nations and First Nation organizations across Canada.