Revamped, secure Indian status card unveiled
The federal government is looking for a Yukon First Nation to test out a new, secure Indian status card that can be used when crossing the Canada-U.S. border.
Officials with the Indian and Northern Affairs Department showed the new card Wednesday to delegates at the Council of Yukon First Nations' annual general assembly in Whitehorse.
"It's the first truly secure indigenous document throughout the world," Alex Akiwenzie, manager of First Nation relations and partnerships with the Indian and Northern Affairs department, told CBC News on Wednesday.
With extra security features such as a hologram and a scannable ID card number, as well as the usual picture and name, the card complies with U.S. Homeland Security requirements.
That means status Indians with the new card can cross the border, by land or by sea, without needing a passport.
The new card also identifies the holder's First Nation affiliation. Akiwenzie said that feature is there only to comply with Homeland Security requirements, not to track First Nations.
Akiwenzie's request for a Yukon aboriginal community to pilot the new status cards drew a friendly contest between several First Nations that are located near the Yukon-Alaska border.
"Just about every second day I go across [the border]," said Chief David Johnny of the White River First Nation in Beaver Creek. "We have a house across in Northway too, so my kids go to high school in Alaska."
The Tr'ondek Hwech'en and Carcross Tagish First Nations also put in dibs to pilot the secure cards, prompting some good-natured ribbing during Wednesday's assembly meeting.
Akiwenzie said $6 million to $8 million has been budgeted to create and distribute the new status cards.