June 17, 2021

Iroquois Passport Seized at Canadian Border

“Joyce M. King, an Akwesasne Mohawk woman, and director of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’s Justice Department, had her Haudenosaunee passport seized at the Canadian border last month. She was on her way to a garden party fund-raiser on June 18th, when she was asked for identification at the Cornwall port of entry.

Iroquois Passport Seized at Canadian Border

Upon realizing that her New York state driver’s license has expired, Ms. King was told by a CBSA border officer that anything with her identification was an acceptable form of ID. She gave the officer her Haudenosaunee passport – a document which is issued by the Iroquois confederacy, and is considered a valid form of identification.

“”And she told my sister (who was driving the car) to pull into secondary inspection, without asking (me) for another form of identification,”" said King.

Even though she has used her Haudenosaunee passport to enter Canada before, through the Montreal point of entry, in addition to entering Germany, Japan, and re-entering the United States, King was repeatedly told that it was a “”fantasy document.”"

After the CBSA confiscated her passport, King gave them a second piece of ID – her Certificate of Indian Status card.

“”They took away my identification. I don’t know why they’re afraid of the passport, why they had to confiscate it. It’s almost like residential schools all over again. They took my identification, my identity, away from me. It seems to be a continuing problem for Canada, from my perspective. And they’ve got to stop doing that.”" said Ms. King.

When contacted, Citizen and Immigration spokeswoman Rachelle Bedard acknowledged that her department decides what ID is acceptable when entering Canada. She did not answer when asked why the Haudenosaunee passport is not considered valid.

Chris Kealey, a CBSA spokesman, said that privacy regulations prevent them from commenting on specific cases.

Ms. King plans to file a complaint with both the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the Canada Border Services Agency, due to the treatment she claims she received at the border. As part of her complaint, the Mohawk Nation will be sending a letter to the CBSA.”

Additional resource links:

Ottawa Citizen

Iroquois Passport Seized At Border