Jordan’s Principle (JP) comes from the story of a First Nation boy named Jordan River Anderson. He was from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba and was born with severe medical issues that would require at-home health care. The province of Manitoba and the federal government could not determine who would be financially responsible for his at-home care. His life was spent in the hospital because an agreement could not be made regarding his at-home care. This dispute ultimately led to the passing of Jordan Anderson at the age of five years old. He wasn’t given the opportunity to go home to his family and loved ones. Jordan’s Principle was developed to ensure a situation like this wouldn’t happen again. It states that any public service ordinarily available to all other children must be made available to First Nations children minimizing delay, denial, and disruption. Listuguj adopted Jordan’s Principle under the Listuguj Community Health Services Directorate (LCHS) in 2017.
In the community, three employees working for LCHS specialize in JP. Sara Swasson, MA is the Jordan’s Principle Manager, Kara Metallic, ECE is the Jordan’s Principle Assistant, and Teeka Dedam is the Intervention Support Worker. Not only do they work specifically for JP, they are also responsible for various LCHS events in the community such as Healthy Breakfasts, Lunch and Learns, and more.
Sara Swasson said, “Jordan’s Principle is to make sure our children have access to all essential services, needs, and supports in a timely manner, and trying to eliminate barriers.”
Listuguj has implemented specific policies and procedures that have been created to fit the needs of the community. The services are for First Nation children 0-18 years of age, living on or off the reserve. As stated in the policy, a child will need to meet one of the following criteria to be eligible:
- Is registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act with the Listuguj First Nation (Band #051);
- Has one parent or guardian who is registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act;
- Must reside on, or within a 5KM radius of the community.
There are many financial and support services available. These include various health services, such as diagnostic assessments and screenings, mobility aids, orthodontic care, optometry, speech therapy, medical supplies and equipment, and more. Social and educational tools, products, and services are available as well. Other things that could be approved on a case-by-case basis are household and family items and services such as emergency housing accommodations, housing modifications, temporary food and clothing allowance, assistive technology, and more.
The initial step for someone looking to receive services is to reach out to the Listuguj Health Centre. “They reach out to us, and we will give them the forms to fill out to let us know what their request is, and we go from there,” said Metallic. The staff will then work closely with the family or guardian, the school, and the professionals involved in the case to ensure they have gathered all the information and supporting documents. Once the case is finalized, it will be sent off to Jordan’s Principle in Quebec to decide. If they approve the request, it is sent back to the staff here in Listuguj to fulfill, if not, it is then escalated to Jordan’s Principle in Ottawa.
LCHS would like to note, that while Jordan’s Principle is a helpful resource available to community members, it is important for parents, guardians, and family members to be aware of pre-existing resources that the JP team can assist you with before applying for services. Swasson said, “It’s about navigating the existing programs and services available in and around the community, and then if not available, that’s when we can begin the process to submit an application.” In some cases, an individual will need to prove that they have explored other avenues and were denied before having access to Jordan’s Principle services.
When it comes to a child’s development, early intervention is key. There are several resources for children available in the community. One of these is an Occupational Therapist. An Occupational Therapist from New Richmond visits Listuguj frequently and provides regular assessments to children at Alaqsite’w Gitpu School, Head Start, and the Mawo’ltijig Mijjuaji’jg Child Care Centre, as well as at-home visits and assessments. The Occupational Therapist will evaluate several things with the children, such as fine and gross motor skills, sensory needs, developmental milestones, and more. After these assessments, they will then report back to the family/guardians, teaching staff, and health center staff with recommendations on the next steps for any children that are showing delays or that could benefit from a service offered. There is also a Speech Language Pathologist in the community available to assess children and provide tools and tips to the family/guardians and will let them know if any other services or tools could help the children with their daily activities and livelihood in general. These types of assessments can guide the team working with the child’s family to help the child reach developmental milestones.
Overall, Jordan’s Principle is extremely beneficial to many children and families in the community of Listuguj. It’s all about doing what is best for the children, as they are our future and the next generation. “We want to give them the best outcome in life,” said Metallic. It was created to give all First Nation children access to resources to increase their overall well-being. It’s not hard to see that Listuguj takes pride in its children and assists and supports families in times of need. Teeka Dedam said, “We like to see the children in the community benefitting from the services they’re able to access through JP.” If you would like to have information on Jordan’s Principle, or would like to inquire if your child could benefit from any of the services and tools offered, please reach out to the Listuguj Community Health Services at (418) 788-2155 or stop by the Health Centre at 6 Pacific Drive to make an appointment.
By Ann Marie Jacques and LCHS