Back in the summer of 2007, I had a brief job as a special assistant for a member of Parliament. The majority of my job consisted of looking for stories and setting up interviews for the MP’s Internet broadcast. It was,thankfully, a very short gig and I moved on to better things.
Most of the stories I researched and set up interviews for were either politically motivated or kind of banal; however, one story that we covered during this summer touched me.
While searching for a story, I discovered that Jean Crowder (a MP from B.C. ) was putting forward a motion for a private members bill and made a statement that I felt was important and deserved to get as much as press as it could. This was unusual. Often these statements are used as nothing more than a vehicle for self promotion: “Minister X would like to extend her congratulations to the local hockey team Y for winning championship Z.” That kind of thing.
Jean Crowder was doing something different with hers and was lending her voice in Parliament to advocate on behalf of aboriginal children to support Jordan’s Principle.
It’s a sad story. Jordan was a little aboriginal boy with very severe medical problems. Jordan’s family was forced to give the child up so that Jordan could access the best possible care that was not available on the reserve. After two years, Jordan was approved by his medical care givers to go to a special foster home where he would receive the extensive care he needed and also benefit from a home atmosphere. Jordan never got to go to this facility because the federal and provincial governments couldn’t decide who would pay for it. While they were argueing over the bill, Jordan died in the hospital.
This would not happen to any other Canadian child because they would be covered under their provincial plans. This only occurred because Jordan was an aboriginal child born on a reservation and thus fell under a grey area between federal and provincial jurisdictions.
Tragically, had they moved Jordan to the foster home facility for his final days, not only would his quality of life have been better but his care would have actually been cheaper for the taxpayer as well.
If Jordan’s principle is adopted. The Federal Government will pay up front any costs (to be retrieved later from the province if applicable) to allow native children to have access to services when they need them.
This issue has resurfaced for me recently when I received this e-mail, which I have decided to post here in full:
Dear Jordan’s Principle Supporter – we need your help
As you may know, the federal government is attempting to narrow Jordan’s Principle to apply only to children with complex medical needs with multiple service providers instead of to all government services. We currently have a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal alleging that the Canadian government is discriminating against First Nations children by failing to implement Jordan’s Principle across all Government services and by providing a lesser level of child welfare funding on reserves.
I am writing to invite you all to spend two minutes supporting our “I am a witness” campaign. This campaign calls on caring Canadians and people from around the world to sign up to say they will witness the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which is reviewing a complaint that the federal government discriminates against First Nations children by providing them with less child welfare funding and benefit than other children receive. Being a witness means you agree to follow the case by either attending at the tribunal in person or following it through the media, visiting our website -www.fncaringsociety.com. After you have heard all the facts presented at the tribunal you will be in a good position to make up your own mind about whether or not you feel the federal government is treating First Nations children fairly.
Be amongst the first to sign up as a witness – it is free and open to all organizations and individuals and please encourage everyone in your circle to do so as well. A year after the apology for residential schools we want the Canadian government to know that caring Canadians are keeping watch over this generation of First Nations children.
Here is the website – please do spend 2 minutes to sign up! Here is the website http://www.fnwitness.ca
I have signed up. If you feel so inclined to do so as well, I know it will be appreciated.