GNWT releases What We Heard Report for amendments to Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act

News Releases

Yellowknife — May 4, 2023

Today, the Government of the Northwest Territories released the What We Heard Report for amendments to the Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act, which includes feedback received from the public and stakeholders between September 1st, 2022 to October 21st, 2022.

The public engagement focused on providing information and collecting feedback on the development of amendments. The engagement consisted of two components:

  1. Residents were invited to participate by reading the Key Elements document posted on the Department’s website and submitting feedback by email or mail.
  2. A letter was sent to four key stakeholders inviting them to provide feedback on the Key Elements document. These stakeholders were the Northern Mosaic Network; the Law Society of the Northwest Territories; the Canadian Bar Association – Northwest Territories branch; and the Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Highlighted findings include:

  • Over 40% of respondents indicated correct Indigenous names, with diacritics instead of only in the English or French alphabet, was overlooked in the Key Elements document.
  • Several residents indicated the church gave them the wrong name.

Results from the public engagement, together with cross-jurisdictional reviews and additional policy research, will be used to inform decision makers as this initiative progresses.


"As we work towards modernizing the Vital Statistics Act and Change of Name Act, it is critical that we listen to the feedback of our residents and stakeholders. The What We Heard Report provides valuable insights that will help us ensure that these important pieces of legislation better reflect the needs and concerns of our communities.”

- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services

Quick facts

  • In total, 17 responses were received.
    • 7 were written submissions via email and 10 individuals provided comments on the English and French Facebook posts.
  • The Vital Statistics Act sets out registration of a variety of life events, and provides documents as proof of those events. These life events are births, deaths, stillbirths, adoptions, custom adoptions, and marriages that occur in the NWT.
  • The Change of Name Act sets out the requirements for an adult to legally change their first name, middle name(s) and/or surname (family name) for any reason, other than marriage, annulment of marriage, divorce or death of a spouse.  It also sets out requirements to legally change the name(s) of a person’s children or legal dependent(s).

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For media requests, please contact:

Jeremy Bird

Manager, Communications

Department of Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories

(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034