US embassy cable - 06TORONTO2912

ONTARIO FIRST NATIONS FRUSTRATED WITH WHTI

Identifier: 06TORONTO2912
Wikileaks: View 06TORONTO2912 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2006-12-11 14:28:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV KTIA PBTS CA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO1893
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #2912 3451428
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111428Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1728
INFO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 1442
RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
UNCLAS TORONTO 002912 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O.12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, KTIA, PBTS, CA 
SUBJECT: ONTARIO FIRST NATIONS FRUSTRATED WITH WHTI 
 
 
Sensitive But Unclassified - protect accordingly. 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  Representatives of the Association of Iroquois 
and Allied Indians (AIAI) expressed concern to conoff and poloff on 
December 1 about how implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel 
Initiative (WHTI) at the land border would affect the ability of 
Canadian First Nations members to enter the U.S.  Considerable 
confusion exists among First Nations as to what documentation will 
be required.  AIAI chiefs suggested that First Nations should be 
allowed to produce their own documentation in lieu of a passport or 
a Canadian version of the "passcard."   Conoff noted that U.S. or 
Canadian passports are the easiest to obtain and are the most secure 
method of documenting citizenship and identity for border crossing 
purposes.  While the assembled chiefs thought USG outreach efforts 
on WHTI were inadequate, they also reported that Canadian government 
outreach to First Nations on the issue is practically nonexistent. 
End Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) The AIAI chiefs, who collectively represent the largest 
First Nations organization in Ontario, reported that they and their 
membership remain confused as to how the WHTI would affect their 
right to free transit across the U.S.-Canadian border.  Conoff 
responded that while U.S. law and the Jay Treaty allow certain First 
Nations and Native Americans free passage across the border, neither 
law nor treaty exempt them from documentation requirements.  He 
noted that U.S. or Canadian passports are the easiest to obtain and 
are the most secure method of documenting citizenship and identity 
for border crossing purposes.  Poloff and conoff explained that the 
U.S. plans to begin issuing a secure passport card to U.S. citizens 
and encouraged the chiefs to work with the Canadian federal 
government regarding an equivalent, or alternatively, to explore the 
possibility of a secure passport-equivalent version of the Canadian 
First Nations status card.  The chiefs reacted coolly to this 
suggestion, arguing that their tribes should be treated as sovereign 
nations capable of producing their own documentation. Conoff did not 
respond to this suggestion, noting that the Canadian government had 
not yet made plans for a passport alternative.  In response to 
questions about the timeline and mechanics of WHTI land border 
implementation, poloff and conoff encouraged the AIAI to use the 
federal comment period to make their views known. 
 
3. (SBU) The chiefs also complained about occasional perceived rude 
or unfair treatment at border crossings by U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (CBP) and Canadian Border Services Agency personnel. 
They offered to provide training and education to CBP officers. 
According to the AIAI the 50% blood quantum required by U.S. law for 
passage across the border is inherently unfair, as their tribes are 
culturally, not racially based.  Further, they wondered whether 
their Canadian status cards would be sufficient proof of Native 
American ancestry to cross the border, given the 50% blood quantum 
requirement of U.S. law. On balance the chiefs reported a better 
relationship with U.S. authorities, due mainly to the Canadian 
refusal to recognize the Jay Treaty at all. 
 
4. (SBU) COMMENT:  The meeting, organized at the request of the 
chiefs, was cool, though cordial, as the chiefs questioned the new 
WHTI rules while aggressively defending what they view as their 
tribal and treaty rights.  Much of their dissatisfaction is directed 
toward the Canadian government, which they perceive as unresponsive 
to their concerns about the border.  The chiefs asked to be informed 
when the comment period opens for WHTI land border implementation 
rules and sought assurances that their concerns would be taken 
seriously.  They also urged more frequent outreach efforts from the 
USG.  Like the Canadian populace at large, Ontario First Nations 
remain apprehensive and skeptical about the effect of the new border 
security regulations on their accustomed routine. END COMMENT. 
 
NAY 

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