In a June 2016 report entitled “Border Crossing Issues and the Jay Treaty”, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples recommended that Minister Bennett appoint a Special Representative to engage with First Nations and explore their views regarding the border crossing challenges they face as well as their perspectives on potential solutions.
In response to the Senate Committee’s report, Minister Bennett along with Minister Goodale (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) and then Minister McCallum (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship) sent a letter to the Senate Committee advising that the government of Canada would be appointing a Special Representative to engage with First Nations on border issues. On December 16, 2016 Minister Bennett appointed Mr. Fred Caron as a Special Ministerial Representative mandated to engage with First Nations in border communities and with national First Nations organizations to explore their views concerning Canada-US border crossing challenges and potential solutions. In response to the Senate’s report and the federal government’s decision to appoint a Special Representative, the AFN executive struck a Chiefs Committee on Border Crossings.
Mr. Caron’s findings will inform the work of an Interdepartmental Steering Committee responsible for developing a plan to identify sustainable solutions that facilitate improved mobility across the Canada-US border for of First Nations community members. These solutions will also balance the need to maintain national security and public safety. Mr. Caron is due to report back to the Steering Committee in August 2017.
Former Grand Chief Mike Mitchell has been appointed by the National Chief and the Executive Council as AFN Special Representative mandated to engage with government officials in Canada and the USA to explore the possibility of developing a secure Indigenous identification border access card for Indigenous Nations living near the USA/Canada border.