First Nations Child & Family Caring Society calls on people in Canada to help raise awareness of Bear Witness Day May 10th

On Tuesday, May 10th, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
of Canada (The Caring Society) will recognize Bear Witness Day. The goal of Bear Witness Day is to raise awareness of Jordan’s Principle, a child-first principle and legal rule that ensures First Nations children receive the services and supports they need when they need them, such as access to health care and education.

The day also marks the bearthday of Spirit Bear, a teddy bear and reconciliation bearrister who represents the 165,000 First Nations children and their families impacted by the human rights case that made Jordan’s Principle a legal rule, and the thousands of other children who stood with them for fairness.

Jordan’s Principle is named in loving memory of Jordan River Anderson, a First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who was born with complex medical needs. He died in the hospital at age five while the provincial and federal governments argued over who should pay for his at-home care – care that would have been paid for immediately had Jordan not been First Nations.

Following a nine-year case, the federal government was ordered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to fully implement Jordan’s Principle by May 10, 2016. Although it has taken several more years and further non-compliance orders for significant progress, May 10th was chosen for Bear Witness Day as it is an important date in the history of Jordan’s Principle.

“Each year on May 10th we share Jordan’s story and encourage people in Canada to show their support and ‘bear witness’ to ensure Jordan’s Principle is fully implemented,” says Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director at the Caring Society, in the same release. “Bear Witness Day provides us with an opportunity to educate Canadians on the inequities experienced by First Nations children, and it helps us ensure that moving forward, these children have timely access to the public services they need. However, there is much work to be done by Canada to end ongoing inequities in services for First Nations children, youth, and families. There are solutions, and so public awareness and pressure are needed to ensure the federal government ends this discrimination.”

The Caring Society invites people in Canada to participate in Bear Witness Day 2022 by learning about Jordan’s Principle, sharing the information with family and friends, and posting a photo with their own teddy bear on social with the hashtag #JordansPrinciple and #BearWitnessDay.

To learn more about Jordan’s Principle and Bear Witness Day, visit The Caring Society.

- Jennifer Cox