British Columbia

'I feel like a citizen': ICBC grants Richmond woman photo ID following middle initial dispute

The discrepancy between passport, B.C. Services Card kept Nyoka Campbell without B.C. photo ID for years.

Discrepancy between passport, B.C. Services Card kept Nyoka Campbell without B.C. photo ID for years

Nyoka Campbell, 29, and her son Cameron Watson, 8, are pictured outside their home in Richmond on Aug. 29, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A stressful saga to obtain photo identification from ICBC has come to an end for a Richmond woman who was routinely denied ID by the insurance provider because of her middle initial.

Nyoka Campbell, a 29-year old single mother, had been trying to get a piece of photo ID from ICBC since 2016. She had just two primary pieces of ID to her name: a passport and a B.C. services card.

The two cards would usually be enough for someone to qualify for a B.C. photo identification card. But a small discrepancy between her documents — her passport includes her middle initial, while her Care Card does not — kept ICBC from issuing her a card.

Last month, the provincial Crown corporation said Campbell's documents did not meet its requirements. It said she needed to provide an additional foundation document — either a birth certificate or a Canadian citizenship certificate — to complete the process.

However, Campbell, a Jamaican immigrant, lost her birth certificate in a flood. Her citizenship card was stolen years ago.

"I feel like I am almost not a person because of the way they've treated me." Campbell told CBC News at the time. "I am Canadian. I am a citizen of the Province of British Columbia, and I feel that I am entitled to be able to identify myself."

However, following the publication of an article highlighting Campbell's ongoing struggle and financial strain, ICBC has changed its tune.

"We're able to make a one time exception for Ms. Campbell and issue a photo ID (either a B.C. Services Card or BCID) valid for five years in order for her to obtain a foundation identity document," said ICBC spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins in an emailed statement.

The insurance provider declined to comment on why it altered its stance, citing privacy concerns.

Nyoka Campbell says a small discrepancy between two Canadian government-issued IDs as kept ICBC from issuing her a photo ID card. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

'I feel validated'

Wednesday marked the first time in years Campbell left an ICBC office with both a smile on her face — and approved paperwork for a B.C. photo ID.

"I feel validated. I feel victorious," she said triumphantly. "My concerns about how I was treated at ICBC [were] resolved. I got my photo ID."

"I feel like a citizen, whereas before I felt like a second class citizen. I feel like I am respected and I feel like I am part of the community," she added.

Campbell says her passport expired as she struggled to obtain a valid provincial photo ID through ICBC.  With no passport and no current provincial photo ID, she could no longer board an airplane.

That meant she had no way of visiting her terminally-ill grandmother who lives in Ontario, where Campbell grew up.

"I am able to go home if I need to, once I get this ID in the mail. Christmas is just around the corner, and I'm happy to say, I could be home for Christmas," said Campbell.