November 02, 2006 14:54 ET

Anishinabek developing own identity cards

Anishinabek identity cards

Attention: Assignment Editor, News Editor NIPISSING FIRST NATION--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 2, 2006) - Anishinabek leaders have approved the development of a security-compatible identity card for use by citizens of their 42 member First Nations.

Grand Council Chief John Beaucage confirmed that Chiefs attending this week's Special Assembly in Garden River First Nation endorsed the development of a "smart" multi-purpose card to replace existing federal Certificates of Indian Status and provincial Certificates of Tax Exemption used for purchases of gasoline and tobacco.

"This new status card would also allow our citizens to go back and forth across the border without a passport," said Beaucage, referring to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative - an anti-terrorist requirement that all travellers to the U.S. - including Canadians - have a valid passport by Jan. 1, 2008.

"We're negotiating with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to be the delivery agent for this new multi-purpose status card," said Beaucage. The new cards will require final approval of Anishinabek Chiefs and INAC, which the Grand Council Chief hopes to secure in time for a spring, 2007 implementation.

The new status card will incorporate high-technology security features, such as a holographic photo, designed to put an end to the practice of forging Status Cards.

"People without any rights are using forged cards to purchase eye glasses and prescription drugs," said Beaucage. "They are stealing from our communities by doing that. We want to put these forgers out of business."

The Grand Council Chief also stressed the new card's implications for cross-border travel by Anishinabek Nation citizens.

"It will ratify our treaty rights," he said, "especially the 1794 Jay Treaty which provides for unrestricted travel for First Nations people between Canada and the United States."

Pending ratification by Chiefs and Indian Affairs, Beaucage said plans call for a mobile unit to travel to Anishinabek Nation communities to distribute the new cards. He added that the Anishinabek Nation would be willing to share any new technologies with other treaty organizations across Ontario.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The UOI is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Contact Information

  • Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
    Primary Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2245
    Secondary Phone: 705-498-5250
    E-mail: goubob@anishinabek.ca