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Manitoba waiving fees to help residential school survivors reclaim traditional names

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The Manitoba government is indefinitely waiving fees for legal name changes to help residential school, Federal Indian Day School and Sixties Scoop survivors reclaim their traditional names.

The province made the announcement on Wednesday, adding that the Vital Statistics Branch will work with Indigenous-led organizations to create a simple and trauma-informed application process. They will also develop forms specific to residential school, Federal Indian Day School and Sixties Scoop survivors.

“At birth, these children were given names that connected them to their rich Indigenous cultures, only to have those names taken away when they entered the residential school system,” said Consumer Protection and Government Services Minister James Teitsma in a news release.

“This change will allow those affected to proudly reclaim that important link to their families and heritage at no cost.”

Manitoba is making this change in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 17, which is for governments to waive administrative fees for five years for residential school survivors and their families if they reclaim names changed by the residential school system.

It also follows amendments to the Vital Statistics Act to expand the parameters of name registration to include a wider range of characters and names in recognition of traditional Indigenous cultures, as well as other cultures and languages.

“Helping to reconnect residential school survivors and their families with their traditional names is an important step in moving reconciliation forward,” said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relation Minister Eileen Clarke.

“Our government’s commitment to progress on the Calls to Action remains steadfast and we are proud to have a role in advancing Call No. 17.”

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