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What's in a name? A bureaucratic battle

Aug 11 2012
Daryl Taylor holds his communion papers. All of Taylor's identification and papers spell his name Daryl - except for his birth certificate, which uses Darrell. 

Daryl Taylor holds his communion papers. All of Taylor's identification and papers spell his name Daryl - except for his birth certificate, which uses Darrell.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

There are times when Daryl Taylor of Saanich wonders if he really exists, because, according to government agencies, there is no such person.

There is, however, a Darrell Taylor, born in the same place and at same time.

"I am currently a nonentity. I can't drive, I can't prove that I am who I have always been, I can't apply for a passport," Taylor said. "Heck, I can't even purchase a cellphone."

For most of his life, 58-year-old Taylor, who was born in Manitoba but moved to B.C. as a child, had no problems with the name Daryl.

He was baptized as Daryl in Winnipeg, confirmed at St. Andrews Cathedral in Victoria as Daryl and his now-expired driver's licence was in the name of Daryl.

"All my life, every instance of my personal, legal and governmental affairs were listed as Daryl. My signature was always signed that way," he said.

Taylor was issued with a replacement birth certificate in 1971 after losing the original, and, although he noticed his name was spelled Darrell, he thought nothing of it.

"As a dumb 17-year-old, it didn't matter much to me," he said.

But now, in a post 9/11 world, it matters.

Taylor has been told that in order to apply for a B.C. driver's licence or identity card using Daryl, he must legally change his name.

Initially, Taylor assumed the spelling mistake was made when his birth certificate was replaced, but Manitoba Vital Statistics found the Darrell spelling was on his original birth certificate.

"My dad signed off on it. Maybe he was drunk or just so happy that his son had been born, but it wasn't the intention of my parents," he said.

A letter to Taylor from Susan Boulter, CEO of Manitoba Vital Statistics, says the registration signed by his father clearly spells his name Darrell.

"To officially change the spelling of your given name, you can apply to the Vital Statistics office in your province of residence for a legal change of name," the letter says.

Manitoba records can then be changed, Boulter says. "This will ensure that any subsequent certificates of birth will spell the given name the way you want it."

But Taylor believes the original error came from a clerk at Manitoba Vital Stats and was compounded by his father's failure to fully read the document. He knows his parents wanted his name spelled Daryl.

"If my parents were alive today, they would be incensed," he said.

There is also the question of cost as Taylor is living on the limited income of a disability pension.

A name change in B.C. costs $162. The application for a new birth certificate has a price tag of $25, and the driver's licence and ID card come with their own fees.

Taylor is also increasingly incensed at what he sees as an unbending bureaucracy.

Julie DeVoin, spokeswoman for Manitoba Vital Stats, said many government and private organizations previously took a more casual approach to the spelling of given names.

"In an earlier era, some of an individual's identity documents may have reflected nicknames, spelling variations or truncated names," DeVoin said.

"Since the terrorist events of September 2001 and growing concerns about identity fraud and other law enforcement issues, many organizations - including vital statistics agencies and driver's licence issuers - have taken a stricter approach to individuals' names."

However, Taylor, who believes the stress is making his clinical depression worse, just wants to be Daryl, not Darrell.

"I'm starting to sign off 'they call me nobody,' " he said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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