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Invitation to watch Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger on May 10 at 10:00am PDT

It took one little boy, Jordan River Anderson, to ensure that thousands of First Nations and Inuit children can today receive the same standard of social, health and education services as the rest of the Canadian population.

In Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, renowned documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin chronicles the long legal fight against a health care system that operated on two disconnected levels, causing injustices and suffering—a situation that has since been significantly improved.

A member of the Norway House Cree Nation of Manitoba, Jordan River Anderson had very serious health problems, for which he was being treated at a Winnipeg hospital. He could have ended his life in adapted housing close to his family, but because of his Indian status a dispute arose between the governments of Canada and Manitoba over who should pay the costs of his relocation to home-based care. Jordan died in hospital in 2005.

Jordan’s Principle, which states that the first government agency to be contacted is the one responsible for this phase of a child’s care, was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons in 2007, and a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal resolved the issue of jurisdiction.

May 10 is Spirit Bear’s birthday and an important date in the history of Jordan’s Principle at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

The Tribunal’s first non-compliance order called for Canada to fully implement Jordan’s Principle by May 10, 2016. Unfortunately, it took several more years and many non-compliance orders (September 2016, May 2017, November 2017) against Canada before real progress was made.

Jordan’s Principle is a child first principle and legal rule named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. It ensures First Nations children receive the services and supports they need, when they need them.

Celebrated annually, Bear Witness Day honours Jordan River Anderson and invites people of all ages to “Bear Witness” to ensure Jordan’s Principle is fully implemented!

To learn more about Jordan River Anderson and why Jordan’s Principle is so important, read or watch Spirit Bear and Children Make History on Spirit Bear TV, or take it one step further: Read Spirit Bear’s Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and create a plan for how you will take action and respond to one or more of the Calls to Action. Visit the The Caring Society for further information.

The National Film Board have educational Mini-Lessons to accompany the film for students of all ages, covering Civics/Citizenship (Federal and Provincial Government, Human Rights), Indigenous Studies (History and Politics and Issues), and Social Studies (Law).

Our hearts overflow with gratitude to Dr. Cindy Blackstock and The Caring Society for her fearless and tireless work advocating for Indigenous children. It is Cindy’s dream that Bear Witness Day is acknowledged annually to honour and recognize the life of Jordan River Anderson – together we can help her!

We honour Dr. Blackstock, the recipient of the 2023 World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child by millions of voting children.

Bring your good heart, prayers and Teddy Bear to the virtual screening, along with snacks and drinks! Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbours, classmates, and loved ones to bring their teddy bears or stuffed animal friends to join the tea party on May 10 at 10:00am PDT.