Illustrative vignette

An indigenous perspective

The following is a fictitious scenario illustrating a human experience in today’s world, followed by an imagined improved future enabled by digital identity. In this vignette, we’ve created Carl, from Edmonton, Alberta.

A look at the current state

Getting and using legal federal or provincial identification is easy for most people; systems are built for these forms of ID. I have and use typical identification like my passport and driver’s licence but when it comes to carrying a recognized ID that identifies me as Cree, I’m forced to jump through hoops and endure lengthy processes. Even then, I’ve heard of friends who are refused their rightful service or benefits because their status card isn’t accepted in many places. 

Like all Indigenous peoples in Canada, Carl has a multifaceted identity. He is recognized and identified as Cree by the Cree Nation, and identified as Albertan and Canadian by most public and private systems. Carl holds both collective rights (affirming and preserving the collective identity of his First Nation’s culture, such as rights to resources and activities) and individual rights (rights held by all individuals, such as the right to vote or to move anywhere in the country). In the current state of identity systems, Carl doesn’t have the autonomy to self-declare his origin identity as defined in the Indian Act of 1985. He can’t, for example, present his government-issued status card, identifying him as a “status Indian,” to vote in elections.

Envisioning the digital ID-enabled future state

In the digital ID-enabled future, Carl will hold multiple credentials, issued by trusted authorities and verifiable by any organization requiring proof of his attributes. Moreover, the First Nations principles of OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession of data) will be supported insofar as Carl wishes to make his data available to Indigenous authority bodies. He will have control over who his data is shared with and, in many cases, simply be providing proof that he holds certain attributes, rather than providing the attributes themselves.

With identification that fully represents him—ensuring his ability to represent himself as part of a collective identity—Carl can enjoy secure, private, and seamless participation across every jurisdiction in which he participates. He now easily accesses the services and benefits he’s entitled to in the public, private, and Indigenous systems, such as First Nations voting processes for electing officials.

For the first time in my life, I have control of my own personal data and, together with other members of my nation, I can exercise self- declaration as Cree with legal proof of identification. I can also contribute my data to support evidence-based decision-making regarding First Nations services improvement. I’m fully empowered to access government and private sector services and conduct transactions digitally, securely, and across the full spectrum of my individual and collective rights. My ID is trusted, and I trust that my identity and data are secure.

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