Ottawa announced on Monday that Indigenous peoples can now apply for their traditional names on passports and other government identification.
This decision comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called on governments to allow Survivors and their families to restore the names modified by the residential school system.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the announcement applies to all First Nations people. Inuit and Métis, and potentially affects hundreds of thousands of people who want their identity back on official documents.
All fees will be waived for the name change process, which involves passports, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards, said Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino.
The traditional names given to Aboriginal children have profound cultural significance. Yet for many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, colonialism has deprived them of these sacred names, Mendicino said at a press conference on Monday.
Minister Miller acknowledged that for some, the newly opened door to name change may not be sufficient.
The approach to the Canadian passport is different for many communities. Some reject it, as they reject the Canadian identity, so that doesn’t solve the problem, he said.
But what it does offer is that people who choose the Canadian passport can now see their aboriginal name, which is not just a symbolic issue, but a profound identity issue.
Most of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission remain unsatisfied. although the ministers highlighted two bills that would enshrine indigenous rights in the oath of citizenship and align Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Source : Ici Radio Canada