Q.1) What is a Certificate of Indian Status or Status card and why does INAC issue it?
The Certificate of Indian Status, more commonly referred to as a Status card, is an identity document issued for administrative reasons by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to confirm that the cardholder is registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act.
Q.2) Who is eligible for a Status card and what is it used for?
Any individual registered as an Indian under the Indian Act is eligible for a Status card, regardless of age, and can voluntarily apply for a card. The Status card is provided to assist registered Indians in accessing a wide range of programs and services administered by federal agencies, provincial governments and other private sector program and service providers. Many of these organizations use the Status card as the main or sole proof that a person is entitled to receive the benefits.
Q.3) Why is INAC creating a new and improved Status card?
The new Secure Certificate of Indian Status features several security improvements that significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized alterations or duplication. This helps to ensure the ongoing integrity of the programs and services by protecting them from incidences of fraud and identity theft.
This initiative is called the Secure Certificate of Indian Status Project. It originated through a joint initiative between the Assembly of First Nations and the Lands and Trust Services Sector of INAC and a related project with Treaty 7 First Nations. The goal is to address the need for increased security features on Status cards so issues of stolen identity and fraud can be reduced or eliminated.
Q.4) When will the Secure Certificate of Indian Status be available?
On December 21, 2009, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada began issuing Secure Certificates of Indian Status to applicants who applied in the border communities that received advance application intake visits in the spring of 2009 and whose files were complete. INAC has transitioned the INAC Alberta Regional Office in Calgary and Treaty 7 First Nations in Alberta to the new SCIS application intake process from the current Treaty 7 card. In April 2011, the INAC regional office in Edmonton will begin accepting applications for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status.
At the end of March 2011, INAC Headquarters located in Gatineau, Quebec will accept applications for the Secure Certificate of Indian Status. Appointments will be required. Please call 1-877-710-2908 to book an appointment today.
INAC continues to finalize the phased roll-out plan for the national application process. As information becomes available it will be posted on INAC’s website.
Q.29) Is the border-crossing SCIS accepted at U.S. land and water ports of entry?
Yes. On December 21, 2009, the Government of Canada received approval from the United States that the border-crossing format of the Secure Certificate of Indian Status is a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant document to enter the U.S. by land or water.
Q.30) Is my current Status Card an acceptable document to present when visiting the United States?
Yes. INAC has been advised that Department of Homeland Security will continue to accept the current Indian Status Card as a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant document for a reasonable transition period. The interim flexible solution being applied by DHS allows for the use of the current Indian status card to cross the border, by land or water, into the United States (U.S.). The Government of Canada cautions individuals that the period and extent of this flexibility is entirely at the discretion of U.S. officials and reminds travelers that when entering the U.S. via air that a valid passport or NEXUS card is required.
Q.32) Is there a link between the new Secure Certificate of Indian Status and the Jay Treaty?
No. The Jay Treaty of 1794 provided free border-crossing rights for “the Indians dwelling on either side of the boundary line” between Upper and Lower Canada and the United States, and exemption from duty or taxes on their “own proper goods” when crossing the border.
After the War of 1812, the Treaty of Ghent between Britain and the United States was intended to restore the border-crossing rights of the Jay Treaty, but legislation implementing these rights in Upper and Lower Canada lapsed. Because of this, the Jay Treaty is not recognized in-Canada. There is therefore no link between the new Secure Certificate of Indian Status and the Jay Treaty.
In the 1920s, the United States changed its immigration laws and ever since, Canadian-born people with at least 50 per cent Aboriginal blood can enter, live in and work in the United States without immigration restrictions.