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B.C. parents fight to have spelling of son's Indigenous name recognized by province


A Campbell River, B.C., woman is elated over the birth of her third child, but she's having her joy tainted somewhat as she struggles to register her son's name with the province.

The boy's parents, who are Indigenous, want to give their son an Indigenous name. However, they say the province won't recognize the name because it uses symbols and characters in its spelling.

"Shortly after he was born we received a letter and they spelled his name entirely wrong, so I was like, 'Uh oh, this is an issue,'" said Crystal Smith.

Smith and her husband, Raymond Shaw, planned to name their son λugʷaləs, pronounced Glu-go-lus.

"His name is spelled with a lambda, a u, g, raised w, a, l, schwa and an s," said Smith.

He's named after a landmark on traditional land near Sayward, B.C., which means "where people were blessed," according to Shaw.

"His name comes from a mountain here, just like half an hour, 45 minutes in Loughborough Inlet. It's a Kwak’wala word," said the boy's father.

B.C. government workers have made suggestions on how the name could work in English, but the couple is refusing. The parents posted their frustrations on social media, and say they've seen support.

"The response on Facebook has been pretty supportive, so everyone’s saying this is ridiculous, like it’s an easy fix," said Smith.

"I was able to download the keyboard in five minutes so why isn’t the government doing this?"

The couple also says they're not the first people to run into a similar problem. Salisa Joseph couldn't register her newborn's Squamish name in B.C. as well.

"We're going to ask you to bend yourself to fit into this English box again," said Joseph.

The province says it's working on adding traditional names to B.C. identification cards, as part of its reconciliation action plan. However, a timeline for when that will be implemented has not been announced.

"Making that adjustment is one of the commitments and we’re working hard to make that happen," said Health Minister Adrian Dix at an unrelated news conference.

"So yes, I understand the distress and yes we’re absolutely committed to addressing it and changing it," he said.

But for the Smiths, they say the delay is an example of how things haven't gotten better on the journey towards reconciliation. Top Stories

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