COMMENTARY: Navigating name diversity: why getting it right matters

posted on April 27, 2021

April 13, 2021

By Neetu Garcha, Global News

You may be hard-pressed not to find someone in Canada who has memories of dreading the moment their school teacher reads their name off a list in front of the entire class.

For many, that moment often involved an internal debate about whether to correct the teacher, whether to go with whatever pronunciation they came up with, or to create a version of their name that’s easier for others to say.

Well, for UBC associate professor Candace Kaleimamoowahinekapu Galla, she’s long been the one in the front of the classroom, introducing herself to students with her traditional Hawaiian middle name.

“Every semester we download a class list and there is the students’ first and last name but then there’s also the preferred name, and it’s interesting because some of the international students will have an English name as a preferred name,” Galla said, adding “names carry a particular power and I tell them it’s okay for us to use our Indigenous and heritage names and that regardless of if it’s difficult, it’s my responsibility as an instructor to learn your name.”

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