Drivers' licences and general identification cards in the Northwest Territories are getting an upgrade this year, with new security features and new designs that include images that represent the territory.
During a video conference Wednesday, Kevin Dunbar, director of the territory's compliance and licensing division, said the new security features will make drivers' licences and general identification cards (GIC) harder to replicate and alter, further protecting people's identities.
The new features include more fine-line printing, raised printing, as well as invisible ink that can only be seen under an ultraviolet light.
There are also a number of design features specific to the territory on the new cards, including a diamond, an Arctic grayling, fireweed, the midnight sun, a fox, and the mountain aven — the floral emblem of the Northwest Territories.
Adele Bisaillon, senior creative communications advisor for the territorial government, who helped design the new cards, said she worked very closely with the Canadian Bank Note Company, which designs and creates the country's money. Canadian Bank Note Company also prints the Northwest Territories' identification cards.
The new cards will also have facial recognition, which will recognize any small detail in a person's face in the picture on their licence or GIC, once again making them harder to replicate.
Dunbar said the government updates the design of these cards roughly every 10 years, and security features like this weren't available then.
The new cards are available Sept. 1. People's licences and GICs that don't have the new security features will be valid until they expire.
Temporary ID cards coming soon
Dunbar says in November, people looking for general identification cards will also be able to get temporary ones.
Typically when someone applies for a new licence at the drivers' and vehicle services office in Yellowknife, they get a temporary paper one and then their official card is mailed to them a few weeks later.
But for people needing a GIC, temporary cards haven't been available, which means they would have to wait two to four weeks for any card at all.
That would make it really difficult for some people who only have a GIC and needed to fly soon after applying for one, Dunbar said.
"This will help alleviate that problem," he said.
What about Indigenous accents?
Dunbar said the territorial government is not in the process of making it possible to print accents from Indigenous names on licences or GICs.
This is something some people in the territory are fighting for.
He said right now, other jurisdictions in Canada don't know how or won't be able to "decipher" those accents, so there's "no movement on that" for the time being.