Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok feels a special affinity and kinship with Indigenous people. He is an adopted member of the Weasel Traveller family of the Piikani First Nation.
Today in the Legislature, Clovechok introduced a private member’s bill that would allow Indigenous language characters on birth certificates, adoption papers and pieces of government identification in B.C.
“Indigenous people were stripped of their traditional names by the residential school system and this bill directly responds to one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Clovechok. “Indigenous applicants being denied their names have been told by government that current software won’t tolerate special characters. It’s unacceptable that John Horgan has one billion dollars for a vanity museum project, but can’t afford software that will permit Indigenous people to use their rightful names. This bill would force them to take action.”
The Bill, titled Indigenous Names Statutes Amendment Act, would allow for characters other than Latin alphabetic letters to be officially accepted and recognized on important government documents, like birth certificates, in the case of British Columbians with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis ancestry.
“The traditional names given to Indigenous children carry deep cultural meaning. Being able to have documents like birth certificates reflect true cultural names in Indigenous languages is not just symbolic, but a matter of profound personal identity. They have meaning,” said Clovechok. “So many Indigenous names use characters, numbers, and symbols which for far too long have been ineligible on official provincial documents. John Horgan and the NDP must recognize that it is their duty to find a way to accommodate Indigenous names going forward.”
Clovechok says that a letter from a Grade 12 student from Golden, Emme Abbs, inspired him to introduce the bill. She has a passion for the reclamation of Indigenous names for residential school survivors, and he was moved by that passion to put the bill forward.