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Posted: May 19, 2022

MLA tables bill to allow Indigenous names on documents

BC Liberal MLA Doug Clovechok (Columbia River-Revelstoke) introduced a bill today that would allow Indigenous language characters on birth certificates, adoption papers, and pieces of government identification in British Columbia.

“Indigenous people were stripped of their traditional names by the residential school system and this bill directly responds to one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Clovechok.

“Indigenous applicants being denied their names have been told by government that current software won’t tolerate special characters. It’s unacceptable that John Horgan has one billion dollars for a vanity museum project, but can’t afford software that will permit Indigenous people to use their rightful names. This bill would force them to take action.”

The Indigenous Names Statutes Amendment Act would allow for characters other than Latin alphabetic letters to be officially accepted and recognized on important government documents, like birth certificates, in the case of British Columbians with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis ancestry.

“The traditional names given to Indigenous children carry deep cultural meaning. Being able to have documents like birth certificates reflect true cultural names in Indigenous languages is not just symbolic, but a matter of profound personal identity. They have meaning,” added Clovechok.

“So many Indigenous names use characters, numbers, and symbols which for far too long have been ineligible on official provincial documents. John Horgan and the NDP must recognize that it is their duty to find a way to accommodate Indigenous names going forward.”

The inspiration for the bill was a letter sent to Clovechok from a grade 12 student named Emme Abbs from Golden. Her passion for the reclamation of Indigenous names for residential school survivors and their families helped drive MLA Clovechok, an adopted member of the Weasel Traveller family of the Piikani First Nation, to put this important Private Member’s Bill forward.

Read the Indigenous Names Statutes Amendment Act, 2022.


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