As part of its commitment to Reconciliation, the Government of Canada has been working together with Indigenous Peoples to build a relationship based on respect, partnership, and recognition of Indigenous rights. To this end, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been actively involved in several Government of Canada initiatives concerning Indigenous Peoples, including the Minister’s Special Representative Report on First Nations Border Crossings and the Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation strategy.
In 2018, as part of the CBSA’s Indigenous Framework and Strategy, the Indigenous Affairs Secretariat (IAS) was established at the Agency to provide an Indigenous lens and guidance on all matters relating to how the Agency’s people, policies, operations and engagement activities affect Indigenous Peoples. The IAS demonstrates the Agency’s commitment to its accountabilities and its desire to take positive steps in support of Reconciliation and the Government’s commitment for a new nation-to-nation relationship.
As an example, in October 2018, the CBSA, in partnership with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, implemented trilingual signage (adding the Mohawk language to the existing English and French) at the Cornwall Port of Entry (POE).
The IAS is taking an innovative approach to engaging the CBSA’s stakeholders, both internal and external, in order to affect change. This commitment to applying Indigenous ways of working has begun to foster a deeper cultural awareness on the part of staff and resulted in dialogue and a more inclusive and meaningful approach to Reconciliation.
Benefits for all Canadians
The CBSA’s vision is to be a leading organization that engages, respects, cooperates and partners with Indigenous Peoples in providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities and facilitate the free flow of admissible people and goods.
The IAS plays a key role in realizing this vision. This includes enhanced cultural competencies within the Agency that ensure the CBSA is both aligned with the Government of Canada’s Reconciliation principles and that a solid foundation is created to support and nurture Indigenous considerations in all aspects of the Agency’s business. This in turn will influence the Agency’s priorities with regard to its mandate, including the goal of being an employer of choice for Indigenous Peoples.
The Secretariat will also support CBSA frontline staff engage with Indigenous Peoples and communities and enable service excellence for all Canadians.
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