Bear Witness Day Keeps Spotlight on Jordan’s Principle and First Nations Children



On May 10, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society will mark the birthday of “Spirit Bear" with Bear Witness Day for Jordan's Principle, named after Jordan River Anderson, who died in 2005 at the age of five.

Jordan was a First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba born with complex medical needs. Despite being medically cleared to go home, he spent more than two unnecessary years in hospital while the province of Manitoba and the federal government argued over who was legally and financially responsible for his medical care.

Had Jordan not been a First Nations child, there would never have been an argument in the first place. Jordan's death led to widespread calls for a child-first principle to ensure First Nations children could access the medical services they need without denial, delay or disruption.

The reason May 10 is an important date in the history of Jordan's Principle is that it was on this day in 2016 that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's first non-compliance order was issued against the Canadian government. Canada had been given May 10, 2016 as a deadline to fully implement Jordan's Principle, however it took three more non-compliance orders and several more years before Canada acted.

Today, Jordan's Principle is a child-first principle and legal rule that ensures no other First Nations children needlessly suffer the way Jordan River Anderson did. It is reflective of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Canadian law that does not allow differential treatment on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Show Your Support

If you want to show your support on Bear Witness Day (May 10, 2022), there are a number of things you can do:

  • Read and share this illustrated story entitled Spirit Bear and Children Make History, which outlines the origins of Jordan's Principle
  • Share this card with others to let them know about Bear Witness Day
  • Spread the word and post photos on social media using the hashtags #JordansPrinciple and #BearWitnessDay. You can hang out with your favourite teddy bears or stuffed animal and let neighbours know you're participating by placing a bear or drawing of a bear in the window
  • Reach out to the government of BC to ask that Spirit Bear Day become a recognized holiday, as it is already in the province of Manitoba, Jordan's home.

The FNHA and Jordan's Principle

Until 2019, the FNHA worked to help parents and caregivers in accessing supports for Jordan's Principle. However, as the legal obligation for Jordan's Principle rests with Canada, the FNHA and Canada mutually agreed to transition the evaluation of determination for all Jordan's Principle requests to Indigenous Services Canada BC Region in February of 2019.

As a health and wellness partner for First Nations communities and individuals in BC, the FNHA fully supports Jordan's Principle as a legal framework and as a principle to ensure that First Nations children are given the same medical treatment options as any other child living in BC.

Learn more

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has a website devoted to Jordan's Principle.

You can submit a request under Jordan's Principle at Indigenous Services Canada BC Region.

Jordan's Principle has a toll-free phone line at 1-855-JP-CHILD (572-4453) that is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.​

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