First Nations and border crossing: discussion guide
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has begun an engagement on First Nation border crossing issues, led by Fred Caron, the Minister’s Special Representative on this issue.
On this page:
- First Nations and the Canada-United States border
- Standing Senate Committee report
- Questions for First Nations
First Nations and the Canada-United States border
The longest border in the world between two countries, the Canada-United States (US) border was drawn through a series of treaties between the US and the British Crown.
It was surveyed and paced out – from east to west to northwest – across First Nations’ traditional territories.
For many First Nation communities in Canada, the border is a daily reality. For others, it may be something more distant, crossed seasonally, to work, to visit family, to strengthen ties with Native American communities, or to honour, pursue and maintain traditions.
Standing Senate Committee report
In its June 2016 report, Border Crossing Issues and the Jay Treaty PDF Version (530 Kb, 17 pages), the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples examined a range of border crossing issues identified by First Nations, including in particular:
- the time required and the formalities that must be observed for community members who cross the border on a daily basis, to work, to go to school, or to buy groceries
- the challenges that border, immigration and customs policies can present in maintaining close cultural and family ties with Native American communities in the US
The Senate Committee recognized that border crossing issues are highly complex and relate to questions of citizenship, international sovereignty and security. It encouraged First Nations and the Government of Canada to work together to find practical solutions.
The Senate Committee also recommended that the government appoint a special representative to explore possible solutions and issue a report by December 2017. Among the solutions that the committee proposed were:
- secure identification cards
- telephone and video reporting
- a review of admissibility requirements for Native Americans entering Canada
Questions for First Nations
As part of the engagement, First Nations and national First Nation organizations are asked to provide input on the following six questions:
- How prominent a role does the Canada-US border play in the lives of members of your community? How often do members of your community cross the Canada-US border?
- What reasons prompt members of your community to cross the border?
- Groceries and other purchases?
- Ties to Native American communities?
- What stands out most with respect to your community’s experience of the border? What benefits or impacts does it have on the lives of members of your First Nation?
- What would you rank as your most important concerns relating to the border?
- What challenges would you identify relating to the federal government’s policies and procedures at the border?
- What solutions would you propose to address the border crossing concerns that you have raised?
Related linksFirst Nations and border crossing: Engagement 2017
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