Border Crossing

AFN Annual Report 2014

First Nations have Indigenous and Treaty rights to travel and trade freely across the US-Canada border, as recognized and affirmed in the Jay Treaty of 1794, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and Article 36 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Issues of interest in this policy area are cross-border mobility and trade, enhanced border security, transport of sacred items, and the development of First Nation identification card systems.

The Chiefs-in-Assembly have asserted that the remedies that are currently available, including passports from Canada and the US and the Secure Certificate of Indian Status from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) do not meet the needs of First Nation citizens and continue to violate inherent and Treaty rights. Resolution 20/2010 calls for the use of Indigenous passports and urges the Government of Canada to work with First Nations in establishing their own systems of secure identification, based on their nationhood, citizenship, jurisdiction, and inherent rights. In addition, Resolution 52/2011 reaffirms First Nations sovereignty as reflected in Treaty relationships with the Crown and the responsibility to protect the resources of First Nation lands and the rights of First Nation citizens; the resolution further recognizes the jurisdiction and sovereignty of each distinct Nation to develop, create, and circulate their own identification cards. Resolution 78/2011 directs the AFN to seek resources to convene the Second International Indigenous Border Security Summit in Akwesasne.

Key Issues and Activities

Second International Indigenous Border Security Summit
The AFN is working on securing the resources to host the Second International Indigenous Border Security Summit in collaboration with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. The Summit is planned for fall 2014. All Chiefs are encouraged to attend the Summit which will provide an opportunity to discuss border-related issues with representatives of the Canadian and US governments, as well as to share expertise and build Indigenous networks around issues, such as cross-border travel, trade, policing, and emergency preparedness.

Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS)
AANDC is accepting applications for the in-Canada format of the SCIS by mail. A number of AANDC offices are also accepting applications, including AANDC Headquarters in Gatineau and other offices listed on the AANDC website. The AANDC website advises that the remaining offices and First Nations will continue to issue the current version of the status card (CIS). AANDC has received assurance from the US Department of Homeland Security that US officials will continue to accept the domestic SCIS as well as the CIS for entry into the US by land and water.
Next Steps - Moving Forward

  • Information sharing and dialogue on First Nation border crossing issues, especially as they relate to the rights of First Nation citizens to travel and trade freely within their territories and as citizens of their First Nations.
  • Planning the Second International Indigenous Border Summit and co-hosting the event in fall 2014.
  • Seeking updates from AANDC on the implementation of the Secure Certificate of Indian Status and continued advocacy for changes, based on input from Chiefs.
  • Supporting dialogue on the development of Indigenous identification cards and systems that meet international identification management standards.

Assembly of First Nations