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Manitoba parents want changes to allow traditional Indigenous names on birth certificates

A new bill brought forward by Manitoba’s NDP would allow parents to give their children traditional Indigenous names.

Ian Bushie, the NDP’s Indigenous Affairs critic, brought forward the bill, which would make changes to Vital Statistics to allow traditional Indigenous names.

“I believe this is important, because naming you child is an important part of the family process,” he said. “And, in the spirit of reconciliation, I believe this is the right thing to do.”

Currently, Vital Statistics Canada is limited to letters A through Z, with English and French accents.

“I believe the system we have now is currently outdated right now,” Bushie said.

Carson Robinson and Zaagaate Jock, two new parents, joined Bushie at the announcement, saying their newborn daughter’s traditional Mohawk name, Atetsenhtsén:we, cannot be registered on a birth certificate.

Robinson said his daughter’s name means “forever healing medicine” in the Mohawk language.

“We want to be able to name our baby how we see fit in our traditional ways of living,” Robinson said.

The family said they are also meeting with Vital Statistics about their situation.

In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson for Labour, Consumer Protection and Government Services Minister Reg Helwer said the province is already accepting traditional Indigenous names that use characters not included in the Vital Statistics Act because “it’s the right thing to do.”

“The act will be amended in due time to include characters not currently included,” the spokesperson said. “However, this issue is significant and emotional for parents and for families, so we need to get it right. We will broadly consult various Indigenous groups and others before bringing forward vital statistics legislation that will reflect the interests of all Manitobans.” Top Stories

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