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

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

The artist rendered Sadie with a few more ribs and wrinkles than she had in real life, and with the fading of her paint she looks a little sad. But real-life Sadie was an energetic hunting dog, her owner Cliff Curtis said. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Dog sculpture at Glen Lake Park based off a happy hunting hound

Sadie the dog was not as old as the concrete art looks almost 20 years later

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 as overdose emergency turns 5

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

An employee at Sidney’s Thrifty Foods tested positive for COVID-19, the parent company Sobeys posted on its website Wednesday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
COVID-19 case reported at Sidney grocery store

Thrifty Foods employee last worked at the store April 3

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(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

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

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along the highway in Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Most Read