NDP bill allows parents to choose traditional names for their children

May 18, 2022 

Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg MB – Today the NDP critic for Indigenous Reconciliation, Ian Bushie, was joined by new parents Carson Robinson and Zaagaate Jock and their baby, Atetsenhtsén:we, to celebrate the introduction of an NDP bill that would amend the Vital Statistics Act to allow parents to name their children traditional cultural names.  

“Naming a child is a significant moment for all parents, and for many families it’s an opportunity to pass on their culture and traditions to the next generation,” said Bushie. “The act of naming has an even greater meaning for many Indigenous families today in the wake of Residential Schools. It’s impossible to deny that the purpose of these institutions was to erase the culture, traditions and names of Indigenous children and their families. If the province is committed to reconciliation, we must make changes to ensure that all parents are able to name their children according to their cultural traditions.”  

Currently the Vital Statistics Act only permits the letters “a” to “z” and only allows for accents from French and English languages. This limitation excludes many names from other languages with accents that do not exist in French and English. Bill 236 would amend the Vital Statistics Act to allow parents to choose a name from the child’s traditional culture, like Carson Robinson and Zaagaate Jock who named their daughter Atetsenhtsén:we from Kanien'kéha, the Mohawk language. 

“This bill is important for parents across the province who want to pass on traditional names to the next generation,” said Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP. “It’s our hope that the PCs pass this bill to give parents like Zaagaate and Carson the right to have their child’s name formally recognized and honoured.”