Residential school survivors and their families can now reclaim their traditional Indigenous names at no cost beyond January 2024.
In light of the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, Alberta’s government is taking further steps toward reconciliation. Effective immediately, Alberta survivors of the residential school system wishing to reclaim their traditional Indigenous names will never be required to pay a fee.
“When Indigenous children were torn from their families and communities and sent to residential schools, they were also stripped of their names – a vital link to their community and heritage,” said premier Jason Kenney. “As we all continue to grieve with survivors and their families, we also are committed to action and providing Indigenous people in Alberta a seamless way to reclaim their names and their heritage.”
In 2019, Alberta’s government began waiving fees for a period of five years in response to Call to Action 17 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and article 13.1 from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The fee waiver is now being extended indefinitely in Alberta.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada asked that governments waive fees for five years for residential school survivors and their families who want to reclaim their Indigenous names,” said Nate Glubish, Minister of Service Alberta. “Alberta can do even better by ensuring that whenever an Indigenous person is ready to reclaim their name, they can do so without the barriers of time or money.”
Survivors of Canada’s residential school system or the ‘60s Scoop, and their families, may reclaim traditional Indigenous names by applying for a legal change of name directly through Alberta Vital Statistics. With a legal change of name certificate, the applicant may then apply to change Alberta vital statistics records, driver’s licences and/or identification cards.
“This is another important step towards reconciliation and healing. We have heard from Indigenous leaders and community members. Removing barriers will ensure survivors of residential schools and their families are more easily able to reclaim Indigenous names,” said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations “This will go a long way in retaining and protecting Indigenous culture for generations to come.”
In 2014, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 71, Service Alberta’s Vital Statistics Branch sent the commission all records of segregated Indian deaths from 1923 to 1945, when the data was no longer segregated from the rest of Alberta’s population.