Skip to main content

The Spirit Bear Day Act

On Thursday April 22, I  spoke on Bill 223, The  Spirit Bear Day Act.   This bill, introduced by Bernadette Smith, would provide for May 10th each year to be Spirit Bear Day in honour of Spirit Bear the bear which has become the symbol of  Jordan's Principle.   I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of Jordan's Principle and I am a supporter of this bill.  My speech is below.  At the bottom  are  photos of me with Spirit Bear, and me with Cindy Blackstock and Trudy Lavallee when  we went to Norway House together in August 2016.

Bill 223–The Spirit Bear Day Act

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, first off, I want to say that I support very strongly this bill, which would provide for Spirit Bear day in Manitoba to be celebrated annually.

      I thank the member for Point Douglas (Mrs.  Smith) for bringing this bill forward.

      I remember vividly, in the fall of 2005, reading the tragic story of Jordan River Anderson in an article by Trudy Lavallee in a pediatric journal. It was a shocking and deeply disturbing story of how Jordan River Anderson had died before he was ever able to go home because his going home was delayed because of arguments between federal and provincial govern­ments over who would pay for items as small as a shower head.

      I asked these questions in the Legislature then, a few days later, December the 8th. "Why did this government fail to put Jordan's interests first? Why did this government let intergovernmental bickering replace sensible policy? Why did Jordan have to die before he was ever able to go home?"

      In my supplementary question I asked: "Will the premier today, shortly before we break for Christmas and Hanukkah, make a clear com­mitment to following Jordan's Principle, that the child must always come first?" Sadly, no commitment was made then.

      Later, with Trudy Lavallee's help–she later worked with me in my office in the Manitoba Legislature–I introduced on May 20th, 2008, with Kevin Lamoureux, a bill to implement Jordan's Principle. Sadly, it was not supported by the govern­ment when it was debated at second reading in June, 2008. Sadly, the government of the day settled later that year for a solution which turned out to be not very effective.

      I was pleased subsequent to this on June 5th, 2015, to work with Stu Briese on a motion which he introduced and we got passed–to support Jordan's Principle. This time the motion received unanimous support.

      I would like to salute the efforts of Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations caring society over the years to support and promote Jordan's Principle and to get it fully implemented. When the Harper government took away funding from the First Nations caring society, I joined many other Manitobans to attend multiple fundraisers to help her continue, which she was able to do.

      On August 2016, I was fortunate to be able to go to Norway House on a plane together with Cindy Blackstock and Spirit Bear. It was an incredible exper­ience to be able to talk and work with her in our joint efforts to help achieve a full Jordan's Principle. We walked together in the parade in Norway House and then, at a ceremony after the parade, we all saluted and honoured Cindy Blackstock for her efforts on behalf of First Nations children.

      There have been many occasions where there have been opportunities to move forward with Jordan's Principle. There is substantial progress today, but we are still not where we need to be, either at a federal or a provincial level. I'm a strong supporter of this bill. I hope all in the Chamber will support this bill to have Spirt Bear day recognized formally. It is important to the children of our province that all know this story. And it's important to reconciliation, to a healthier, happier province in the future.

      Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.


Popular posts from this blog

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba ( red line )  started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota ( blue line )   has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph! Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

Standing up for Seniors

Yesterday in the Legislature I  asked the Minister of Health questions about the care of seniors in personal care homes in Manitoba.   I specfically called for the Minister to increase the training and staffing requirements for personal care homes in Manitoba to bring them up to date.   My questions, the Minister's comments and the Speaker's interjection are below:  Personal-Care-Home  Improvements - Need for Upgrades to Standards and Training Hon. Jon  Gerrard   (River Heights): Madam Speaker, we're very concerned this government is not adapting to the reality of caring for seniors who are living longer. Seniors living in our personal-care homes today have much more challenging health-care conditions than those who were in similar homes even five years ago, and yet the staffing formula, or minimal personnel requirement, is over 20 years old. Too few care aides and nurses are adequately trained to look after residents with dementia and multiple chronic health conditi

I cried today when I heard the report on the Maples Care Home disaster

Today the Pallister  government released the report on the tragedy which occurred at the Maples personal care home in October  to December 2020.   There were far too many people infected with COVID-19 (73 staff and 157 residents) and far too many deaths (56).  It did not have to be this way.  The central finding of the report was: "The review found that while pandemic plans had  been prepared and were in place, the site was not prepared for the significant reduction in available staff once they had been  exposed to COVID-19  and were required to self-isolate.  In addition, the urgency of requests for additional on-site staffing supports were not  fully understood until the situation became critical.   While additional staff were brought in, many were not skilled in providing long-term care services and  lacked training in infection prevention and control and specialized housekeeping skills."    Five  months before, Manitoba Liberals had warned the Premier three times that pre