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Bear Witness Day
May 10 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Did you know that Jordan’s Principle is named after a little First Nations boy named Jordan who was denied health benefits and died at just five years old while the provincial and federal governments argued about who was responsible for his care?
The blue teddy bear that you see associated with Jordan’s Principle was the friend that Jordan kept at his side in the hospital. After he passed, a human rights case was filed. Jordan’s bear was brought to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearings to remind those in attendance of the little boy whose life was lost, and to bear witness.
On May 10th, we celebrate Bear Witness Day and bring remembrance to the little boy whose life led to the creation of Jordan’s Principle, a program that ensures that children can access all public services in a way that is reflective of their distinct cultural needs, takes full account of the historical disadvantage linked to colonization, and without experiencing any service denials, delays, or disruptions because they are First Nations.
The Health and Wellness Department is asking community members to join in remembrance and bring awareness to Jordan’s Principle by staging a picture with a teddy bear and sharing it on your social media accounts using the hashtags #JordansPrinciple, #BearWitnessDay, #QalipuFirstNation.
Also on May 10, 2023, between 1 pm to 3 pm, anyone who is in the Gander area is invited to stop by the Qalipu First Nation office at 265 Airport Boulevard to share a piece of Birthday cake with Jordan’s Principle Service Coordinator Ann Strowbridge.
Jordan River Anderson was from Norway House Cree Nation. Jordan spent the first two years of his life in a hospital for a rare genetic condition. The two years following, while living with his family, he was denied health benefits. The federal and provincial governments argued over which government was financially responsible for the child’s health care. In 2005 Jordan passed away at the age of 5.
This jurisdictional dispute caused a lapse of service to a First Nation’s child, where other children would have normally received care or service. A human rights case was launched and won, resulting in First Nation children and families accessing Jordan’s Principle. Spirit Bear served an important role in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearings on Jordan’s Principle.
After ten years at the Tribunal, using the powerful case of Jordan River Anderson and a history of racism as evidence, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society was finally successful in proving that discrimination existed, and the federal government was ordered to make things right. The CHRT issued the first of several compliance orders on May 10, 2016. May 10 is Spirit Bear’s birthday, which has become the mascot and an important symbol of Jordan’s Principle.
Bear Witness Day serves as a reminder – and a day for us all to “bear witness” that First Nations children receive the services and support they need when they need them. If you or someone you know have a child in need, please reach out to Ann Strowbridge, Jordan’s Principle Service Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (709) 651-6952.