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

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Delta police are asking for the public’s help in locating 80-year-old Bob Stout, who police believe went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 16. (Delta Police Department/submitted photos)
UPDATE: Missing senior found safe

Police think Bob Stout, 80, went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 to 8:30 a.m. April 16

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read