North

Council of Yukon First Nations to make Jordan's Principle more accessible in territory

First Nations families in the Yukon can now get help from the Council of Yukon First Nations to access a national services program for children and youth.

Funding named in memory of Manitoba youth who died in hospital in 2005

Council of Yukon First Nations Executive Director Shadelle Chambers and Grand Chief Peter Johnston made the announcement Thursday in Whitehorse. (Claudianne Samson/Radio-Canada)

First Nations families in the Yukon can now get help from the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) to access a national services program for children and youth. 

CYFN is the service coordinator in the territory for a fund under what's called "Jordan's Principle." 

The program helps ensure First Nations children and youth receive the services they need, including education, social supports, and health and medical services. 

CYFN recently launched its support program in both Dawson City and Mayo, according to the organization's executive director, Shadelle Chambers.

She noted that demand for services provided by Jordan's Principle funds has grown dramatically. 

"In October... there [were] only two cases approved for Jordan's Principle in the Yukon, so we've seen that raised from two to 75 in the last number of months — because of the awareness that CYFN is doing," said Chambers.

Jordan's Principle is named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. The five-year-old from the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba died in hospital in 2005 as the provincial and federal governments argued over who should pay for his at-home care. (Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs)

Officials with CYFN will travel to Old Crow next week, and other Yukon First Nations after that, to tell people about their new service.  

The organization's leaders say it's important work.

"Jordan's Principle ensures our children and youth receive the services they need in a timely manner," said Grand Chief Peter Johnston in a news release. "This includes education, social supports, recreation, culture and language, health and medical services." 

Yukoners can apply for Jordan's Principle funding directly from Indigenous Services Canada, or through CYFN.

Bear Witness Day

Thursday's launch by CYFN coincided with "Bear Witness Day," led by Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. It is intended to educate and raise awareness about Jordan's Principle.

Jordan's Principle is a child-first principle named in memory of Jordan River Anderson, a First Nations child from the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. 

Jordan, who was born with complex medical needs, spent more than two years unnecessarily in hospital while the province and the federal government argued over who should pay for his at-home care. He died in hospital in 2005 at the age of five, never having spent a day in his family home.

Advocates say it's high time the federal and provincial governments address the inequalities facing First Nations children in health care once and for all. 0:40