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Jordan's Story

Tansi Nîtôtemtik

“Jordan's Principle makes sure all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services, and supports they need when they need them. Funding can help with a wide range of health, social and educational needs, including the unique needs that First Nations Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA children and youth and those with disabilities may have. Jordan's Principle is named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. He was a young boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba.”[1]

Jordan’s Principle received three years of funding in July 2016, for $382.5 million from Canada.[2] Since that time, 209,000 services, supports, and products to First Nation’s children have been approved under Jordan’s Principle.[3]

Jordan River Anderson was born in 1999 with multiple disabilities and stayed in the hospital from his birth till his death, which came at the early age of five years old.[4] At the age of two, the doctor at the hospital stated that Jordan could go home, provided that he was given special medical care, equipment, and resources that could meet his medical needs.[5] This plan was his chance to experience a somewhat ordinary home life. However, as is often experienced, the federal and provincial governments could not agree on who should pay for the home-based care that the doctor prescribed. The issue at hand was whether the federal government, through their obligations to First Nations and status Indians, was responsible for Jordan, or whether his admission and residency in Manitoba meant the Province had an obligation to care for him.

Jordan was unable to go home, was unable to feel the comfort of a home because to the provincial and federal governments Jordan’s case was just another round of Aboriginal hot-potato. Neither side wanted to pay, neither side seemed to care. Lack of action and lack of care took away a child’s chance to go home, be home, or feel home. Are we to instill a sense of governmental guilt? No, but when Indigenous peoples hear of these stories, there is a deep hurt that resurfaces.

Today, Jordan’s Principle is enshrined in law which means there is no end date to the obligation that was passed in the House of Commons in 2007.[6] The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, in 2017 amended, expanded, and affirmed Jordan’s Principle which is the current and modern use of the Principle, which can be read here: Now “... the first government approached by a First Nation’s community pay for the requested services, and that any jurisdictional disputes be resolved afterward.”[7]

While Jordan is no longer with us, his impact will last for a long time, and “...Jordan’s Principle may advance the challenges of reconciliation and in so doing fully honour the memory of Jordan Anderson.”[8]

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

[1] “Jordan’s Principle”, Government of Canada (Oct 7, 2021) online: <>

[2] “What is Jordan’s Principle” | Assembly of First Nations (accessed Oct 11, 2021) <>

[3] Ibid.

[4] Honouring Jordan River Anderson”, Government of Canada (Aug 8, 2019) online: <>

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Colleen Sheppard, Jordan’s Principle: Reconciliation and the First Nations Child, 2018 27-1 Constitutional Forum 3, 2018 CanLIIDocs 11050, <>, retrieved on 2021-10-11

[8] Ibid.

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