Indigenous Peoples’ Migration and Mobility Rights Prioritized By Immigration Canada

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Canada has made it a priority to ease Indigenous Peoples’ mobility and migration rights, says Immigration Minister Marc Miller, who was previously Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations for five years.

This is reflected in the section to “advance reconciliation as we welcome newcomers” in IRCC’s recent report on the current state of Canadian immigration. It says that in staying consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan 2023–2028, IRCC pursue legislative amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, amendments to relevant regulations and revisions to policies.

These will be aimed at addressing complex border crossing and migration challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples divided by Canada’s international borders, including options to amend Canada’s right of entry provision, and work and study permit requirements.

“Our aim to improve services won’t only stop with newcomers,” said Miller to reporters. “We’re also addressing border crossings for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”

These proposed exemptions from post-colonial immigration rules could be of benefit to several First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples who are currently bound to regular border rules and restrictions, despite having engaged in a years-long battle to be able to travel freely across an ancestral land that now spans parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the US.


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“The imposition of the Canada-US border has been, in the eyes of First Nations, destructive of family, cultural, governance and other connections with US Tribes which are of great importance to their identity as well as to their cultural survival,” read an independent report by Ottawa from 2017.

“The normal flow of family and cultural practices as well as of governmental and membership alliances has been disrupted by current immigration rules.”

Canada – unlike its Southern neighbor – does not recognize the Jay’s Treaty, which allows American Indians to move across borders freely. Indigenous people with Indian status (50% American Indian blood) can thus freely travel from Canada to the US to work, live, and study, but not vice versa.

The problem with mobility is even more exacerbated for the Inuit, who are not recognized as Indian. Respondent to this, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has submitted suggestions to change the wording of the immigration act from “Indians” to “Indigenous Peoples.”


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It further recommends a special “Indigenous Peoples’ Class” so that Indigenous people who are not Canadians can work and live within their homeland in Canada, reported the Toronto Star.

IRCC’s report acknowledged the historic systemic racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples by saying that it will respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 93 by reflecting and more accurate and inclusive history of Indigenous Peoples to newcomers to Canada.

This will include information about the Treaty and the history of Canada’s residential schools.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.