Indigenous family receives wheelchair accessible house after chief applies for access to Jordan's Principle
Nearly 30,000 children helped under Jordan's Principle
The implementation of Jordan's Principle has changed the lives of thousands of families in Canada. Saskatchewan's Brenda Littlecrow is beginning to realize what that's like.
Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at five months old.
He was put on medication for seizures, which Littlecrow said by age one often lasted for an hour or more.
"The doctors were concerned he would sustain additional brain damage to what he already sustained during pregnancy," she said.
Tuesday marks 10 years since the House of Commons passed the resolution named after Norway House Cree Nation child Jordan River Anderson. He died in 2005 amidst a disagreement between the provincial government of Manitoba and the federal government about which would pay for the five-year old's health care.
The Littlecrow family was living on Whitecap Dakota First Nation, about 24 kilometres south of Saskatoon at the time of his diagnosis.There, medical care was not readily available.
The family was forced to move to Saskatoon so Littlecrow's son could receive the care he needed.
That's when Littlecrow found out about Jordan's Principle and began researching qualifications.
Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear applied for access to Jordan's Principle on behalf of Littlecrow's son and other children on the First Nation.
The home will be outfitted with a lift system to help Littlecrow with her son, whom she said is now over 50 pounds and spends much of his time in his wheelchair.
Littlecrow was also told emergency services are going to improve in the area.
She said it shows the importance of asking questions and seeking information.
"Nothing is ridiculous or stupid when it comes to accessing better services and supports for our children," Littlecrow said.
Advocate says federal government must comply
Cindy Blackstock, director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said since the principle was implemented, nearly 30,000 services have been provided to children all over the country in Jordan's name. Despite this, she said there are still a lot of issues with it.
Blackstock said she remembers when the principle was announced with Anderson's father in attendance.
"He saw all the people standing there and hearing his son's name in that House of Parliament but he leaned over and said, 'Don't let the good being done in my son's name today just be a moral victory.'"
Ten years later, Blackstock said there has been four legal orders against Canada for non-compliance of the principle. She said when it was passed, the federal government crafted the definition so narrowly that no child ever qualified.
We feel that there are many other children out there who are in need of help.- Cindy Blackstock , director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
"There were children who were actually dying waiting for services," she said. "Yet, Canada's official position was there were no Jordan's Principle cases."
The Canadian human rights tribunal ruled in 2016 that Canada's failure to implement Jordan's Principle was racial discrimination and ordered it to fully implemented.
Recently, Blackstock said Health Canada has been making significant gains in implementing the principle.
"These families will call us and they're literally crying because they're so grateful that their child has got the help that they needed," she said. "These are services they should've gotten all along the way but it's good to see that progress."
If a First Nations child is not receiving the services and supports they need, Blackstone said families are encouraged to contact the federal government.
With files from The Afternoon Edition, Penny Smoke