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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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.