Get new posts by email:

How to Use this Blog

BOOZHOO! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.

We want you to use BOOKSHOP! (the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... WE DO NOT HAVE ADS or earn MONEY from this website. The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

EMAIL ME: (outlook email is gone)


Saturday, September 2, 2023

Reclaiming Dene name a long journey for N.W.T. man


N.W.T. gov't permanently waived name-change fee for Indigenous residents earlier this year

portrait of a man
Over the years, J.C. Catholique says he's had many names. The Łutsel K'e resident is working through what he hopes will be his last name change to reclaim his traditional name: Gahdële. (Natalie Pressman/CBC)

J.C. Catholique says his current name is meaningless. 

The Łutsel K'e, N.W.T., resident is in the process of reclaiming his traditional name: Gahdële. 

"Catholique, you know, has no reference to being Dene or Dënësųłinë́ person," he said. "But when you say Gahdële, yeah, that means 'rabbit blood' … That's a Dënësųłinë́ name." 

Gahdële says the Catholique name came when missionaries were registering community members. 

"To them, [Gahdële] sounds like Catholique, so that's where we ended up with our name like that." 

Earlier this year, the N.W.T. permanently waived the name-change fee for Indigenous residents. It first decided to do so in 2018 for five years. 

"In the past, individuals who helped new parents complete birth registrations in the N.W.T. may have been unfamiliar with Indigenous names so they were spelled incorrectly. Because children had to be registered with the same name as their parents, this spelling mistake may have continued for generations," explained the territorial government. 

The decision came as a direct result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action 17

"Making this process permanent respects the intergenerational impacts of residential schools by allowing Indigenous people to reclaim their names at any point in their lives, and also protecting that ability for future generations," reads a June news release from the N.W.T. government, about the decision. 

Name change 'journey'

This isn't Gahdële's first name change. 

His birth name is John Morris Catholique, but he became known as Gabriel Paul Catholique while in residential school in Fort Resolution, N.W.T. 

"We were doing a roll call and this name came up … Nobody said anything 'til one of the older guys from Łutsel K'e said, 'That's you.'"

He says his grandmother later told him that wasn't his name. 

He obtained his baptism papers and saw John Morris Catholique; he also learned his birthday was June 14, not 15, as he had been celebrating for years. 

"It's quite a process to end up with all these names," he said. "Kind of an interesting journey." 

Spelling still an issue

Despite the territory's decision to waive the name-change fee, residents still can't get legal documents with the traditional spelling of their names. 

"Work is continuing to develop a transliteration guide for converting standardized Indigenous characters into letters that all computer systems, affected employees, interjurisdictional partners, contracted vendors, and Indigenous northerners will be able to understand," reads the territory's name change webpage.

To be eligible to have the fee waived, residents must have been born in the N.W.T. and still live in the territory. Residents can also only apply to waive the fee once. 

Gahdële says a name carries great significance. 

"That's our roots, that's our identity, that's who we are," he said. 

He hopes that other residents also go through the process to reclaim their traditional names. 

"For the young people growing up, knowing who they are, where they come from, [they] should be proud of who you are, proud of your name," he said. 

According to the N.W.T. government, 113 Indigenous residents have changed their names since October 2018.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please: Share your reaction, your thoughts, and your opinions. Be passionate, be unapologetic. Offensive remarks will not be published. We are getting more and more spam. Comments will be monitored.
Use the comment form at the bottom of this website which is private and sent direct to Trace.

Happy Visitors!

They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
click image to see more and read more

Blog Archive

Most READ Posts


You are not alone

You are not alone

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Diane Tells His Name

click photo

60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

Google Followers