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

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Victoria police are searching for Andrew Swanson who was last seen in Victoria April 7 and is wanted on warrants for choking and obstructing police. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police searching for missing man wanted for choking police

Andrew Swanson, 47, last seen in Victoria April 7

The Esquimalt Fire Department was called to a residence on Glengarry Place Tuesday afternoon for a fire that has displaced two families. There were no injuries and damage is being assessed. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt fire displaces two families

Fire damage at residence on Glengarry Place still being assessed

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of UVic varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read