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Honouring Jordan's Principle

Students from across WSD met on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature with Norway House Cree Nation government to honour and recognize Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan’s Principle is a “child-first” principle meant to resolve jurisdictional disputes between provincial, territorial and federal governments over payments for services to Indigenous children when the services are available to all other children.

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The principle is named after Jordan River Anderson, a Norway House boy who suffered from a rare muscular disorder that required years of medical treatment in a Winnipeg hospital. He spent the first two years of his life in hospital before being medically cleared to live at home with off-site care. However, a federal/provincial funding dispute over the bills made a return home impossible; Jordan died at age five without ever returning to his home.

While the federal government passed a motion in 2007 to implement the principle, that implementation has sometimes been contentious.  In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission included Jordan’s Principle amongst its 94 Calls to Action.

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Students attended the annual Bear Witness Day on May 10; the event is meant to bring awareness to Jordan’s Principle. Simultaneous events were held in Winnipeg and Norway House.

“We continue to push for equal medial treatment for our First Nation children on and off reserve,” said Norway House Chief Larson Anderson.

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Students echoed the sentiment that every child should come first.

“We want to tell the government that arguing over who will pay for healthcare for First Nations kids is ridiculous, and that we never want them to do it again,” said student Ezri Schafter.

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As part of its work as a UNESCO school, École Laura Secord spent the year working on a book about the 94 Calls to Action; the goal is to provide an age-appropriate document, with simpler language, for younger audiences.

“In the fall, that project will turn into a book that will be spread across Canada, helping teachers and students to understand the Calls to Action,” said WSD ESD Consultant Chantelle Cotton.

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Ms. Cotton previously held a professional development session with teachers from 15 schools on Jordan’s Principle. That session included members of the Norway House tribal council.

Students crafted their own Spirit Bears—named after the Bear Witness Event’s mascot—for the event, with the intent of later giving those bears to children in hospitals.

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