Federal officials announced it would allow Indigenous Peoples to use their Indigenous names on all official travel documents, starting with passports and all other major travel- and immigration-related paperwork.
“For far too long, Canada’s colonial legacy has disrupted Indigenous peoples’ Indigenous naming practices and family connections from being recognized,” said Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller at Monday’s press conference. “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.”
The move was part of Call to Action 17, one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, designed to promote and preserve the use of Indigenous names and language – a reversal of the Residential Schools’ policy of whitewashing of Indigenous languages and names.
Miller added the federal government would continue to work diligently toward Reconciliation in the wake of the gruesome discovery of the remains of 215 children in an unmarked grave outside a former Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.
“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,” he said.
While Call to Cction 17 specifically referenced passports, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), officials said, the government has chosen to go further and include travel documents, citizenship certificates and permanent resident cards.
In addition, IRCC indicated it would streamline the service for Indigenous Peoples and would provide the service free for five years.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendecino said the language and culture that Residential Schools sought to stamp out was vital to Indigenous life in Canada.
“Supporting First Nations, Inuit and Metis 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,” he said.
The IRCC is in process of working on two other Calls to Action from the 2015 TRC report, officials added: Call to Action 93 updates the citizenship guide to include the integral role Indigenous peoples have played in Canada’s past, present and future, and Call to Action 94 amends the Oath of Citizenship to refer to the rights of Indigenous peoples and the treaties.
Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett also made mention of the TRC report, saying it was an important step in revising the colonial policies of Canada’s past.
“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,” she said.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase