AMC Recognizes Spirit Bear Day and the Implementation of Jordan’s Principle in Manitoba

Press Release

May 10, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) celebrates Spirit Bear Day, also known as Bear Witness Day, and recognizes it as an opportunity for Manitoba to honour Jordan River Anderson’s legacy and continue the work toward the regional implementation of Jordan’s Principle for First Nations in Manitoba.

The reason May 10 is an essential 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 implement Jordan’s Principle fully, however, it took three more non-compliance orders and several more years before Canada addressed the discrimination faced by First Nations children, youth, and families in Canada. In 2018, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba passed Bill 230, The Spirit Bear Act, declaring that May 10th be honoured as Spirit Bear Day, a day to create awareness of Jordan’s Principle and the challenges faced by First Nations children when accessing government services.

The AMC honours Jordan’s Principle, named in memory of Norway House Cree Nation citizen Jordan River Anderson. Since the mid-1990s, the AMC has advocated for a systemic approach to service provision for First Nations children so they receive the services they need when they need them under Jordan’s Principle. Today, Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle and legal rule that ensures First Nations children don’t 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.

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said, “It is encouraging to know that Jordan’s Principle has greatly increased available services for First Nations in Manitoba. However, Canada’s established measures fail to address the significant and ongoing gaps that First Nations children continue to experience both on and off-reserve.”

The AMC’s advocacy for First Nations children is storied with calls for a self-determined approach to ensuring the needs of First Nations children are met, including through Jordan’s Principle. Recently, the AMC released The Implementation of Jordan’s Principle in Manitoba: Final Report (Final Report). This critical document identifies recommendations to guide the ongoing work of the AMC on implementing Jordan’s Principle for First Nations in Manitoba. The Final Report recommendations range from clean water and housing to establishing formal First Nations-led structures to facilitate coordination and collaboration of supports and services to achieve a transformational change in the full regional implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

“The AMC encourages Manitobans to honour Jordan River Anderson’s legacy by reading The Implementation of Jordan’s Principle in Manitoba: Final Report,” said Grand Chief Merrick. “And today and every day until it is fully realized, we remind governments that the implementation of Jordan’s Principle must occur in accordance with its other commitments and obligations around realizing First Nation rights to self-determination, including supporting the AMC First Nations-led regional coordination structures.”

To read the Final Report referenced above, visit https://manitobachiefs.com/wp-content/uploads/22-01-28-The-Implementation-of-Jordans-Principle-in-Manitoba-Final-Report.pdf

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Email: media@manitobachiefs.com

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