MKO hits milestone with its status card program

·2 min read

An organization that represents dozens of First Nations communities in Manitoba says they have now reached an important milestone as they continue their work to help First Nations citizens apply for and receive their status cards.

On Monday Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said they have reached their goal of assisting 2,500 First Nations citizens in Manitoba to apply for their secure status cards in 2021.

MKO first launched a service to help community members with status card applications back in January of this year, with the service running out of their Thompson office.

The organization, which represents 26 First Nations in Manitoba and several in remote northern communities, said they started the service because First Nations people in many communities have struggled to get their status card applications completed, which can lead to them struggling to access a number of services or resources.

MKO said in a statement released this week that they partnered with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to “ensure that Northern residents have improved access in obtaining their Treaty status cards, as some do not have the means to travel to Winnipeg to get an appointment.”

“I am extremely proud of our small, dedicated team that has provided service to 2,500 citizens from various First Nations to help them apply for their secure status cards,” MKO’s Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a media release.

“Many of us know it’s challenging to get a status card, so I’m grateful for the staff at MKO who have worked diligently to remove barriers to citizens who are trying to get a piece of government-issued ID.”

Settee added the service is now more important than ever because of proof of vaccination requirements that are in place in many businesses and venues in the province.

“Having access to identification is absolutely necessary, especially now with the need to show government-issued ID along with one’s proof of vaccine,” Settee said.

MKO said it has been the work of Status Identification Intake Clerks that has allowed them to reach the milestone of assisting 2,500 community members.

“Our team is small but mighty,” senior status card intake clerk Gina Spence said in a release.

“Our team has travelled to Norway House Cree Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, and Winnipeg to hold pop-up clinics, where we helped people apply for their status cards. Providing Northern residents with easier access to obtaining their status cards is extremely beneficial as many of the people we meet don’t even have any identification.

“It is difficult to access benefits or exercise Treaty rights when you don’t have your status number or status card. I’m proud to be part of the team helping people to obtain their secure status cards.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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