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Jordan’s Principle Initiative

What is Jordan’s Principle Initiative?

The Jordan’s Principle Initiative is a child-first principle that is meant to ensure all First Nations children have access to essential services and timely access to such services.  In other words, the Jordan’s Principle Initiative is designed to prevent all First Nations children from being denied essential services or from experiencing delays in receiving them. 

The Jordan’s Principle Initiative says that any public service that is ordinarily available to all other children must be made available to First Nations children without delay or denial. The Jordan’s Principle Initiative is not a policy or a program; it is a legal requirement that resulted from the Orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

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Initiative Goals

The goals of MAWIW’s Jordan’s Principle Initiative are to:

  1. Ensure that no child is denied access to (or funding for) services.
  2. Establish a positive rapport with communities.
  3. Implement a culturally appropriate, wholistic method to its intake process.
  4. Bridge the gap between the Focal Point and client.

Catchment Area

MAWIW Council Inc. administers the Jordan’s Principle Initiative for its three member First Nations along with 5 others, for a total of 8 First Nations, as follows: Elsipogtog, Esgenoôpetitj, Neqotkuk (Tobique), Matawaskiye (Madawaska Maliseet), Bilijk (Kingsclear), Sitansisk (St. Mary’s), Welamukotuk (Oromocto), Wotstak (Woodstock) First Nations. Combined, these communities amount to more than 80% of the First Nation population in New Brunswick.

  • How the Jordan’s Principle Initiative Came About

    The Jordan’s Principle Initiative was created in memory of and honours Jordan River Anderson, a First Nation child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. Jordan was born with complex medical needs and multiple disabilities.  He spent his first two years of life in a hospital and then, doctors said he could move to a special home.  But the Province of Manitoba and the federal government argued over who would pay for his home-based care.  So while this jurisdictional dispute was going on, Jordan stayed in the hospital.  He died when he was five years old without ever having spent a day in his family home.

    In 2007, the House of Commons endorsed the Jordan’s Principle Initiative in memory of Jordan. It was a commitment that First Nations children would get the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. Payments would be worked out later. The Jordan’s Principle Initiative is a legal obligation, which means it has no end date. While programs and initiatives to support it may change over time, the Jordan’s Principle Initiative will always be there. The Jordan’s Principle Initiative will support First Nations children for generations to come.

  • Why the Jordan’s Principle Initiative is Important

    Payment disputes or funding gaps within and between federal and provincial or territorial governments over services for First Nations children are common.  But until these disputes/gaps are solved, First Nations children are frequently left waiting for services they desperately need or are denied services that are available to other children.  The Jordan’s Principle Initiative calls on the government of first contact to pay for the services without delay and seek reimbursement later. This allows children to get the services or supports they need as soon as possible so they are not caught in the middle of government red tape.

  • Who the Jordan’s Principle Initiative Applies To

    The Jordan’s Principle Initiative applies to all First Nations children living on and off reserve who are between 0 and 19 years old. It is not limited to children with disabilities.  More specifically, the Jordan’s Principle Initiative applies to:

    • First Nations children registered under the Indian Act who live on or off reserve.
    • First Nations children entitled to be registered under the Indian Act who live on or off reserve.
    • Applies to any Indigenous child who is ordinarily resident on reserve (including indigenous children without status).
    • First Nations children who are citizens of a self-governing First Nation who live on or off their territorial lands.

    First Nations children who do not have status under the Indian Act or who are not eligible for status under the Indian Act who live off-reserve but are recognized as members by their nation, who have urgent and/or life-threatening needs. (Indigenous Services Canada.  Standard Operating Procedures Jordan’s Principle Initiative. Implemented October 29, 2019, Revised December 20, 2019, p. 32; Source: https://www.afn.ca/policy-sectors/social-secretariat/jordans-principle/; retrieved on October 14, 2020; Unknown. Accessing Jordan’s Principle Initiative A Resource for First Nations Parents, Caregivers, Families and Communities. Ottawa: Assembly of First Nations, 2018, p. 1.)

  • When Someone Should Apply to the Jordan’s Principle Initiative

    When a First Nations child needs a publicly funded health, social or educational service or support that other Canadian children normally receive and cannot access it through existing programs in the community, then the child is eligible for service or support through the Jordan’s Principle Initiative.

  • Types of Coverage That May be Available Under the Jordan’s Principle Initiative

    The services covered by the Jordan’s Principle Initiative are as diverse as the First Nations children it serves. Any government-provided service available to all other children is included in the Jordan’s Principle Initiative’s coverage, including service assessments. If a service is not necessarily available to other children or is an exceptional service, the First Nations child will still have their needs evaluated to determine if the service will ensure substantive equality.  If this is the case, the government department first approached will pay for the service to ensure the child’s needs are met.

Initiative Services

Examples of the services covered by the Jordan’s Principle Initiative include, but are not limited to:


  • Mobility aids
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Services from Elders
  • Assessments and screenings
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Mental health services


  • Social worker
  • Land-based activities
  • Respite care (individual or group)
  • Specialized programs based on cultural beliefs and practices
  • Personal support worker


Who Can Make a Request Under the Jordan’s Principle Initiative?

A request can be made for products, services and supports under Jordan’s Principle Initiative by:

  • A parent/guardian of an eligible First Nations child;
  • An eligible child who has reached the age of consent in their province or territory of residence (usually above the age of 16); or
  • An authorized representative of the child, parent, or guardian.