Up to 75 per cent of Indigenous people living on-reserve in B.C. do not hold a valid driver’s licence, according a UBCIC discussion paper. (Pixabay.com)

Up to 75 per cent of Indigenous people living on-reserve in B.C. do not hold a valid driver’s licence, according a UBCIC discussion paper. (Pixabay.com)

First Nations leaders seek removal of roadblocks in B.C.’s driver’s licensing system

Barriers documented in new discussion paper

Renewed support and action are needed to allow all members of society equitable access to a driver’s licence, according to a discussion paper released Wednesday by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).

While Indigenous community leaders have for many years identified a driver’s licence as a key to employment, well-being and safety, it is currently estimated up to 75 per cent of Indigenous people living on reserve do not hold a driver’s licence. That number is believed to be even higher in many coastal communities.

“One of the things in talking with UBCIC is that if we don’t tell the truth, we can’t fix the problem,” said Lucy Sager, founder of the All Nations Driving Academy in Terrace.

“… everything from the cost of a ride, to how many people are being incarcerated, and how the colonization of the driver’s licensing system that has existed for decades is hindering the success of Indigenous people.”

Sager identified several barriers to obtaining a driver’s licence, including identification, vision care, outstanding fines and residential school impacts.

Lack of access to a licence and transportation has led to increased hitchhiking along roadways including the section of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, known as the Highway of Tears where women, mostly Indigenous, have disappeared or been murdered.

Read More: Highway of Tears memorial totem pole to be raised in northern B.C.

Community members may even charge each other for rides in which the driver may not hold a valid class of licence. If a ride cannot be paid for in cash, the report said some have been forced to traffic their bodies or facilitate the trafficking of someone else. For an elder, the cost of a ride could be their prescription medications.

“For an Indigenous person, having the unobstructed ability to drive could mean the difference between life and death, criminalization and justice, and exploitation and freedom,” UBCIC secretary-treasurer Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson said in a news release.

“The MMIWG2S crisis continues to take the lives of our women and youth; Indigenous peoples continue to face criminalization, over-incarceration, and unemployment; elders and vulnerable members of our communities continue to be exploited and taken advantage of; and many people continue to be denied a licence simply because they cannot afford or access something as basic as eyeglasses.”

The report makes a total of 46 recommendations that have been endorsed by the UBCIC Chiefs Council, which wants the provincial government and ICBC to work with Sager and other like-minded organizations to implement them.

An ICBC spokesperson said ICBC has been meeting and working with Sager since 2018 and is committed to working with Indigenous communities and Indigenous-operated driving schools to improve the delivery of insurance and driver licensing services across the province.

In 2019 ICBC worked on removing several top barriers impacting Indigenous people from obtaining a driver’s license.

The spokesperson said ICBC changed the permission documents for minors to include tribal council members. Learner’s knowledge test documents were also changed by replacing surname with last name to ensure the forms were completed correctly.

Other changes included allowing students travelling a great distance to take a learner’s test to retake it once that same day if they had failed. As many remote communities do not have windshield repair facilities, ICBC also modified the rules around broken windshields allowing the vehicle to be used during the road test as long as the driver could see well.

ICBC is on track to have equipment that will allow them to deliver their services to remote areas, rather than having people come to one of their offices, operational by 2022, the ICBC spokesperson added.

Read More: New driving school steers around barriers


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

DrivingFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Savanah Sanchez with a likeness of herself in a Canucks’ uniform done by her mom Jessica. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Girl’s passion for hockey knows no bounds

No games, but extensive ice time for training beneficial to Sanchez

Fuller Lake Skating Club.
Figure skating and CanSkate awards presented on the ice

Deserving individuals still recognized in pandemic season

New logo unveiled. (Submitted)
Board of Education seeking feedback on 2021-2022 budget

Public helps determine the allocation of resources

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Opportunity for input on campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

Most Read