Ontario Seeking Feedback On Dual Name Requirements

Two Engagement Seesions Being Held In Akwesasne

Ohiarihko:wa/ July 10, 2015

ServiceOntario would like to invite the community of Akwesasne to attend an information and engagement session on the topic of naming in the province in Ontario. 

ServiceOntario is currently reviewing its policies for naming (which also affects marriage, birth and death registrations) and is seeking to gain a better understanding of the issues First Nations people and other cultures have experienced with Ontario’s naming requirements. 

Currently, the Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act dictates how Ontario registers names.  These acts require a first and last name, or a “dual name.” ServiceOntario would like to hear directly from Akwesasne community members on how these laws and rules affect them, how naming is currently performed in the community, and what suggestions Akwesasronon may have for ServiceOntario to better accommodate the First Nations communities in Ontario.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, a meeting will be held with Leadership, specific community service people, Faithkeepers and Clanmothers, all who may be impacted by ServiceOntario’s dual-name requirements at the A’nowara’kowa Arena’s Turtle Room, from 1-4 p.m.      

On Thursday, July 16, 2015, a second meeting will be held, at the A’nowara’kowa Arena’s Turtle Room, from 1-3 p.m. The second meeting is tailored to a broader community audience and attendees will be encouraged to share their opinions and provide feedback to the Ontario representatives. ALL community members are invited to attend.

ServiceOntario will be travelling throughout the province to have meetings and feedback sessions with other First Nations communities.  However, they are starting their information gathering in Akwesasne with hopes that Akwesasronon will help guide the direction they are going in. 

If you have encountered any issues with naming in Ontario, you are encouraged to attend either or both sessions and provide your insight.  Or, if you have suggestions for ServiceOntario as to how they can better accommodate the province’s diverse population when it comes to naming, please attend. 

Below is information shared from ServiceOntario regarding the purpose of these sessions:


ServiceOntario is conducting a policy review of the current dual name requirement for birth registrations under the Vital Statistics Act and name changes under the Change of Name Act in Ontario. Stakeholders who have expertise in Aboriginal naming practices as well as those who rely on birth and change of name certificates to provide access to other programs and services are being invited to engage in discussions with ServiceOntario. The goals of engaging in discussions are to:

  • Understand existing Aboriginal naming practices, notably single names
  • Assess impacts of making changes to:
  • the Ontario birth certificate, as a foundational identity document
  • the Ontario change of name certificate, as a document used to establish a legal name
  • Understand operational impacts that changes may have on existing programs/policies

Additional Background:

Ontario Birth Certificate Requirements:

A child whose birth is registered in Ontario must be given at least one forename (first name) and a surname (last name). We refer to this as the dual name requirement.  The Vital Statistics Act governs the requirements for registering births for persons born in Ontario, amendments made to Ontario birth registrations, and information that may appear on a person’s birth certificate, including the person’s name.

Ontario Legal Name Change Requirements:

A person residing in Ontario seeking to change their name legally, may change their name to a name that includes a forename (first name) and a surname (last name). This is also referred to as the dual name requirement. The Change of Name Act governs name change requirements for residents of Ontario, including the name that may appear on a person’s change of name certificate and birth certificate, if the person was born in Ontario.

Service Ontario Engagement Process:

The following questions will be used to initiate dialogue about Aboriginal naming practices in Ontario. Additional questions may arise as dialogue occurs, and may be asked during the discussion to further our understanding.


Understanding Aboriginal Naming:

What are the naming practices in your community?

When did those naming practices begin?

Do those naming practices include the use of single names?

Do naming conventions other than single naming conventions exist in your community? How widespread are these conventions?

What languages are spoken in your community?  

Are children named using these naming practices in some or all of those languages?

If yes, do those languages/ names include symbols, accents or characters?

Do resources and/or literature exist to help us understand aboriginal naming conventions?

What documents do members of the community frequently rely on to support aboriginal heritage for other government programs?