The recent reveals of countable misdeeds done on the Canadian indigenous population instigated concerns across the nation. As a response to popular demands, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission took necessary measures. On Monday, June 14, 2021, the federal government announced that indigenous people can reclaim their traditional names on passports and other identifications. This is the justice that indigenous people yearned for many years, but it’s just the first step of a vast agenda ahead.
“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 Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
After the excavation of 215 children’s remains at a former Kamloops residential school, the public has held the government accountable for its negligence. Public sentiments expedited the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s effort to promote indigenous rights.
Why do Indigenous Names Matter?
Indigenous names represent more than a person’s identity—they signify traditions, myths, and linguistics of one’s culture. Nevertheless, the indigenous were deprived of this asset during the age of assimilation. Consequently, a strain of culture unnecessarily diminished. After the residential school system’s abolition, indigenous activists have deposited perpetual effort to restore their original names. Although the Call to Action 17 specifically addresses this issue, the actual policy took five years to realize.
Doubtlessly, the colonial era maligned Canada’s indigenous population. The Government of Canada thoroughly acknowledges the traumatic legacies incurred by residential schools and similar assimilation measures. Additionally, the government will unreservedly compensate any of its past misdeeds.
The reclamation of names is merely one of the 94 Calls to Action introduced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. Meanwhile, cabinet members are actively drafting bills that align Canadian laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The incidents that we witnessed are indeed abhorring, but it is every citizen’s priority to tackle, resolve, and remember these grievances. This is what maketh us Canadians; this is what maketh us compassionate individuals.