Kahnawá:ke Woman Denied Re-Entry To Canada


A Kanien’kehá:ka woman claims she was denied re-entry into Canada upon presenting her Indian status card at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, a mere 15 km away from her home community of Kahnawá:ke.

On March 21, Konwatsitsa:wi Meloche was returning from a trip to Las Vegas when she observed that the automatic entry kiosks accepted permanent resident cards. Believing her Canadian government-issued Indian status card, which appeared similar, would also work, she decided to use it instead of her Canadian passport.

However, both the kiosk and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer refused to accept her card.

Meloche said, in reporting from APTN “I jokingly said, ‘Well, I’m the OPR, which is the original permanent resident.’ And he said, ‘I’m not accepting that card, you need to produce a passport.’ I said, ‘It’s exactly like the PR card, it’s almost identical.’

“He said ‘No, you produce me a passport from Canada, and then you can move along,’” recounted Meloche.

Meloche mentioned that she eventually provided her passport, as it was getting late and her spouse was waiting for her.

According to Meloche, in further reporting from APTN, “It is their own government’s document. A passport, I guess in [the CBSA official’s] mind - I’m not going to speak for him - but it trumped...the Indian Affairs status card.” She expressed frustration at being forced to identify as Canadian rather than First Nations.

She questioned, “Canadian’s rights follow them all over the world. Why don’t our rights follow us?”

Meloche stated that she later reached out to the CBSA and was informed that an Indian status card is indeed a “legitimate and valid” document for re-entry into Canada, as confirmed on the agency’s website. However, she did not receive any clarification as to why her card was initially rejected.


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