Minister Mendicino, Minister Bennett and Minister Miller announce that Indigenous peoples can now reclaim their traditional names on immigration identity documents
Taking Care: We recognize that our response to Call to Action 17 comes at a difficult time for many, and that our efforts to honour victims and families may act as an unwelcome reminder to those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous peoples.
We encourage all those who need some support at this time to reach out and know that support is always there for you through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also, for immediate assistance to those who may need it, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.
June 14, 2021—Ottawa— A person’s name is fundamental to who they are. Indigenous names are endowed with deep cultural meaning, and speak to Indigenous peoples’ presence on this land since time immemorial. Yet the impact of colonialism means that many Indigenous people’s names have not been recognized.
Indigenous peoples have long fought to reclaim their Indigenous names and all that they signify. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 17 directed all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim and use their Indigenous names on all government documents.
In response to Call to Action 17, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced today that Indigenous peoples can now reclaim their Indigenous names, as written, on passports and other immigration documents.
While Call to Action 17 specifically referenced passports, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has chosen to go further and include travel documents, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards, not only for residential school survivors and their families, but for all Indigenous peoples.
IRCC has streamlined the process of reclamation of an Indigenous name to be faster and more efficient for applicants. This service will be provided free of charge for 5 years.
In 2015, the Prime Minister made a commitment to implement all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations involving the Government of Canada—and over the past few years, IRCC has been hard at work to make that happen.
“Supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in reclaiming and using their Indigenous names is an integral part of the shared journey of reconciliation. Traditional names are deeply connected to Indigenous languages and cultures, and an individuals’ identity and dignity. This change means that Indigenous peoples can proudly reclaim their name, dismantling the legacy of colonialism and reflecting their true identity to the world.”
- The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Today’s announcement represents an important step in reversing colonial policies and restoring dignity and pride in the identity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Supporting Indigenous peoples in reclaiming their Indigenous names is vital to achieving meaningful and lasting reconciliation as we work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”
-The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“For far too long, Canada’s colonial legacy has disrupted Indigenous peoples’ Indigenous naming practices and family connections from being recognized. Today’s announcement creates the space for all First Nations, Inuit and Métis to reclaim their traditional identity and the dignity of their Indigenous names on status cards, Canadian passports and other immigration documents, including travel documents, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards. We will continue to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and renew our nation-to-nation Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
– The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented the history and lasting impacts of the Canadian residential school system on Indigenous peoples and their families.
The Commission’s final report was published in December 2015. The report includes its findings and 94 Calls to Action(PDF 298 KB), which call on governments, educational and religious institutions, civil society groups and all Canadians to address the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation in Canada.
IRCC is working on 2 other Calls to Action: Call to Action 93 updates the Citizenship Guide to include the integral role Indigenous peoples have played in Canadas past, present and future.
Call to Action 94 amends the Oath of Canadian Citizenship to refer to the rights of Indigenous peoples and the treaties.
The 2016 Census indicates that there are about 1.67 million people in Canada who identify themselves as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Métis, or a combination thereof), which represents 4.9% of the Canadian population.
IRCC responded to Call to Action 17 requests on a case-by-case basis until the formal process was established.
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