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

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.


“Our Government is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. The implementation of measures to address the border-crossing issues for First Nations is an important and long awaited step towards this goal and follows discussions with First Nations across Canada to identify issues and possible solutions together.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“The implementation of measures to improve services for Indigenous peoples at the border is an important step forward in reconciliation. I am pleased to see this work underway between Public Safety, Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Indigenous partners that will provide a better and more respectful experience at the border.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services

“Our government is advancing reconciliation through meaningful action across the country. The Canada Border Services Agency is committed to being responsive to the issues facing Indigenous Peoples crossing the border, and will continue addressing them through its new Indigenous Affairs Secretariat. Indigenous Canadians should have positive experiences at the border, based on cultural awareness and respect.”

The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Quick facts

  • In December 2016, Fred Caron was appointed as Minister’s Special Representative to examine First Nations’ Canada-United States border-crossing issues. From January to August 2017, he met with representatives from First Nations across Canada to hear about their concerns related to crossing the border.

  • The implementation of these measures to address First Nations’ border-crossing issues involved a number of federal departments and agencies, including Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; Indigenous Services Canada; Canada Border Services Agency; Public Safety Canada; Transport Canada; Global Affairs Canada; and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

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For more information, media may contact:

Matthew Dillon-Leitch
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Canada Border Services Agency
Media Line

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