INAN - Truth and Reconciliation: Call to Action 17 and other Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada initiatives - Jan 28, 2021
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- The Department is acting on Call to Action 17 to enable residential school survivors and their families who reclaim their name to update their Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada-issued documents free of charge, for a five-year period.
- While Call to Action 17 explicitly mentions passports, the Department’s response will also include other documents (i.e. certificates of identity and refugee travel documents) as well as permanent resident cards and citizenship certificates.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is finalizing the necessary steps in the development of program processes which will positively contribute to healing, reconciliation and inclusivity.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working towards reconciliation across policies and programs, for example, by engaging Indigenous stakeholders prior to implementation. Engagement on Call to Action 17 is expected to begin in the coming months.
- Reconciliation is fundamental to nation-building in Canada, where everyone, including newcomers and Indigenous peoples, can feel they belong and their voices are heard.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was only able to move forward on Call to Action 17 once provinces and territories had established or confirmed their processes for the reclaiming of Indigenous names on identity documents.
- By summer 2019, Nova Scotia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Alberta had established Call to Action 17 processes. The remaining provinces and territories will respond on a case-by-case basis.
- The Department’s approach is in alignment with provinces and territories who have implemented formal Call to Action 17 processes to update birth certificates, driver’s licenses and health cards at no cost to applicants.
- The Department will also allow applicable foreign-born descendants of residential school survivors to request the use of their reclaimed name on official identity documents.
Other Reconciliation initiatives:
- The Department has the responsibility to do more on reconciliation across all lines of business.
- This includes recognizing the role of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in colonization, honouring and integrating Indigenous perspectives in policy and program development, advancing Indigenous recruitment and retention, and increasing professional development for intercultural training.
Supporting facts and figures
- In the 2016 Census, 1.67 million Canadians identified as Indigenous. This represented 4.9% of Canada’s population of 37.6 million people.
- More than half of Indigenous Canadians (60%) identified as First Nations (977,000). One third identified as Métis (588,000), 4% as Inuk/Inuit (65,000) and 2.4% (41,000) as belonging to two or more of the above groups.
- An estimated 80,000 of the 150,000 students who went to residential schools (1831–1996) are still alive today.
- The Department does not collect client ethnicity data to administer the Passport or Citizenship Programs. As a result, we cannot estimate how many gratis replacement passports and other documents will be issued over Call to Action 17’s five-year window once the Department launches its process.
- Nonetheless, the Department anticipates low numbers of replacement passports, other travel documents, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards issued in response to Call to Action 17, based on the experience of provinces and territories to date.
- Call to Action 17 asks “all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.”
- The rationale for broadening the scope of Call to Action 17 to all travel documents as well as permanent resident cards and citizenship certificates was to ensure the Department does not eliminate potential clients, as some Indigenous people whose Canadian ancestors underwent an imposed name change may not have been born in Canada.
- Permanent resident cards would capture U.S.-residing descendants of residential school survivors living in cross-border communities. Including citizenship certificates would allow Canadian Indigenous people to apply for a certificate with their reclaimed name.
- Passport: Clients requesting a replacement passport, or other travel document to update their name, will be required to submit the new foundational identity document (birth certificate or citizenship certificate), or a legal name change document. Other supporting identity documents, such as a driver’s license or health card, are used to validate the identity of the individual.
- Citizenship: Clients requesting a replacement citizenship certificate will need to submit an eligibility form, in addition to regularly required documents. For those unable to obtain provincial/territorial documents in their reclaimed name, a statutory declaration is required.
- Permanent residents: Clients requesting a permanent resident card with a reclaimed name will need to provide supporting legal documents (such as a legal name change) and supporting identity documents.
- It is intended that a remission order would be pursued to waive fees where fee waiving authorities under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada do not currently exist, i.e. Canadian citizenship certificates, permanent resident cards, certificates of identity, refugee travel documents and consular fee.
Other Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Initiatives
- The Department has consulted Indigenous organizations on the multi-year levels plan, and this informed the recent tabling of the Plan in Parliament.
- The Department is helping build connections between Indigenous peoples and newcomers. The 2019 funding guidelines for the Settlement Program included this as a funding priority. Approximately 74 agreements with service provider organizations contain an indigenous programming component for the next five years (2020-2025).
- The Government recognizes the challenges that the country’s international borders can pose to Indigenous peoples. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working with other departments, including the Canada Border Services Agency and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, to facilitate border crossing for Indigenous individuals residing in Canada as well as the United States. This ongoing work is to address recommendations identified in an August 2017 report by a Special Representative to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations on First Nations border crossing issues.
- This work includes near-term measures announced by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Minister of Public Safety on December 10, 2018, for example, enhanced Indigenous cultural training for Canada Border Services Agency staff, and strengthened outreach and cooperation by the Canada Border Services Agency with concerned First Nation communities along the Canada-United States border.
- The Government also committed over the longer term, to pursue discussions with interested First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities on potential solutions to a number of the more complex border crossing challenges that have been identified. To advance the examination of some of these long-standing issues, the Government is using existing nation-to-nation and other tables with interested First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to hold exploratory discussions.
- Treaty and self-government negotiation tables as well as discussion tables on the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination are among the forums at which this dialogue is being advanced with interested parties.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is collaborating with key stakeholders working with Indigenous youth to raise awareness about the benefits of work and travel abroad, and is exploring options to increase Indigenous participation in the International Experience Canada program.
- Finally, the Department is working to develop a comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy for Indigenous peoples, and to facilitate education and training for its current employees.
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