For as long as she can remember, Danita Bilozaze knew that the name on her birth certificate, “Danita Loth,” didn’t reflect her Indigenous identity.

From the stories her mother recounted to her, she knew that Catholic missionaries had changed her family’s name. Her great-grandfather, a man known as Lor Bilozaze, was written into priests’ logs as “Loth Bilozaze.” Government record books in Canada ultimately dropped the “Bilozaze,” and Loth became their surname.

Earlier this month, federal officials in Canada announced a new policy process that allows Indigenous citizens to restore their names on government-issued identification, including passports, for free until May 2026.

It’s unclear how many Canadians, 5% of whom are Indigenous, will pursue name reclamation under the new policy.

Earlier this month, federal officials in Canada announced a new policy process that allows Indigenous citizens to restore their names on government-issued identification, including passports, for free until May 2026.

It’s unclear how many Canadians, 5% of whom are Indigenous, will pursue name reclamation under the new policy.

The policy was unveiled against the backdrop of last month’s harrowing discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

 

Read More: NPR, 5 July 2021.

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