Band Names and Band Name Changes

First Nation names and profiles are recorded in Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s (AANDC) Indian Registration System (IRS), a database containing the Indian register, band lists, and band names. The IRS is the official repository of band names and contains the history of names for each band.

A First Nation may wish to change its name for different reasons, such as to add “First Nation” to their name rather than using “band” or for preferences related to the spelling of their names to more accurately reflect its cultural heritage. For example, the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation was formerly known as Canoe Creek.

A First Nation can request for its name to be officially changed by submitting a Band Council Resolution to the Office of the Indian Registrar. The Registrar will then process the request to ensure that the new band name is reflected in the IRS to provide for the recognition of the preference of how a First Nation wishes to be referred to. The IRS populates other AANDC databases, such as the First Nation Profiles and the Indian Lands Registry System.

Band Name Changes in Legislative Instruments

A band’s name may also appear in one or more legislative instruments. For example, the following laws and regulations include a list of First Nations to which they apply: Indian Band Revenue Moneys Order, Indian Bands Council Method of Election Regulations, Indian Band Councils Election Order, or First Nations Fiscal Management Act.

Therefore, band names in legislative instruments will be also be amended to reflect the requested change to ensure clarity as to whether a particular instrument applies to a First Nation or not. The amendments do not affect the applicability of the laws and regulations being amended.

In the fall of each year, all band name changes that have occurred in the previous year will be included in a comprehensive band name change submission that will amend relevant laws or regulations. The name changes are published in the Canada Gazette.

In December 2011, an omnibus band name change submission was approved by the Governor in Council amending several legislative instruments. The amendments reconciled all outstanding band name changes and those name changes that had been recorded in the IRS, but not in the appropriate legislative instrument. In addition, the names of First Nations that entered into self-government agreements and that are no longer subject to the Indian Act, and related legislative instruments were repealed from the legislative instrument where the band name appeared.