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Name change fee permanently waived for Indigenous residents of NWT

A screengrab from the territorial government's webpage related to the waiving of name change fees
A screengrab from the territorial government's webpage related to the waiving of name change fees.

The NWT government is permanently waiving the change of name fee for Indigenous residents who want to reclaim their traditional names.

“By waiving the change of name fee, we are removing barriers for individuals to reconnect with their cultural heritage by reclaiming their names,” said Julie Green, the minister of health and social services, as quoted in a news release announcing the waiver on Tuesday.

“This initiative recognizes the intergenerational impacts of residential schools and affirms our dedication to healing and moving forward together.”

However, residents still cannot use diacritics – characters with special marks which change the pronounciation, such as some of the characters found in “Łútsël K’é” – or glyphs, such as the glottal stop (ʔ), in their name spelling.

“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to implement [special characters], and it involves a coordinated approach between the NWT, and federal and provincial partners,” explained a GNWT spokesperson.



“We need to ensure that any technical changes to electronic systems in the NWT, Canada and internationally avoid unintended barriers for residents. We would not want residents to be negatively impacted, for example, when accessing medical care in other jurisdictions or applying for federal documents like a Social Insurance Number or passport.”

The fee waiver comes as a response to one of the calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Call to action 17 calls upon all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system for free.

The commission recommended the waiver of administrative costs exist for a period of five years.



Initially the government said that it would waive the fee for five years. However, they’ve since changed that time frame so that the $134 fee is waived on an ongoing basis.

More: GNWT FAQ about changing your name and having the fee waived

More: Get the application form to have your name change fees waived

Individuals must be residents of the NWT and must have been born in the NWT to qualify for the fee waiver.

Those born in the territory but living elsewhere in Canada must first apply to change their name where they currently live.

Once the name change has been registered in that jurisdiction, people can apply for a new birth or marriage certificate in the Northwest Territories and request a waiver of that fee.

Since October 2018 when the waiver first came into effect, 113 Indigenous residents in the Northwest Territories have reclaimed their names.