Eager to return to her daughter in Charlottetown, Labrador, Miranda Stone was left in tears at an Air Canada boarding gate in Edmonton recently when gate staff refused to accept her NunatuKavut member card as official identification.
“I went through check-in and security without any issues. But, when I got to the gate, I was dumfounded that they wouldn’t allow me to get on the flight... I was really emotional. I’m expecting to see my daughter at the other end. She’s waiting for her mom to get home. She’s three years old,” Stone said during a phone interview on May 12.
Not only was Stone stuck in Edmonton but her luggage had been put aboard the plane and could not be retrieved. She spent the next several days waiting for the airline to return her luggage.
Stone said before leaving Labrador for Alberta several weeks ago, she visited the NunatuKavut Community Council office in Goose Bay to get a membership card as her new driver’s license (with a switch from Alberta where she previously lived to NL) had not arrived at her home in Charlottetown.
Stone said staff at the community council office told her that, as far as they knew, the membership card would be accepted by the airline.
That was the case on her flight from this province to Alberta, she said.
NunatuKavut (meaning Our Ancient Land) is the territory of the Inuit of NunatuKavut, the Southern Inuit, who reside primarily in southern and central Labrador.
NunatuKavut Community Council’s social sector manager, Darlene Wall, said membership is about 6,000 strong.
Acquiring a NunatuKavut membership card (which includes a photo) is a rigorous and meticulous process, Wall said.
“There’s an application form asking for supporting documents such as a long-form birth certificate (with parents’ names). If they don’t have a long-form birth certificate, we do accept a short-form (birth certificate) but with a baptismal certificate that would again show the parents’ names,” Wall said.
It’s important to the community council, she said, to have this information which is also used for genealogy purposes.
“If we don’t have genealogy information on the persons’ parents and/or grandparents, then we may actually ask for supporting documentation in terms of birth certificates from those family members as well if (the information) is not already in our registry” she said.
However, Wall said, even when someone has an identification card, there’s no guarantee that it will accepted by other companies and organizations.
“We hope everything is good for Miranda now... and we hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she said.
When contacted via e-mail about Stone’s case, an Air Canada’s senior manager, media relations Isabelle Arthur replied that, as directed by the Canadian government, passengers over the age of 18 are required to provide valid government-issued photo identification prior to boarding an aircraft.
Air Canada travel requirements also note that “the documents required for the outbound portion of your travel may differ from those required for the return.”
Stone arrived in St. John’s Friday evening, May 11. Her flight to Labrador was on Sunday, May 13.
“At least I’ll be home for Mother’s Day,” she said.