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Pictou Landing First Nation Mother Fights for the Right to Care for Severely Disabled Son

by Health Director for Pictou Landing First Nation

Pictou, Nova Scotia (June 27, 2011)--A desperate mother from Pictou Landing First Nation is fighting to keep her 16 year old son, Jeremy Meawasige, who suffers from severe and complex disabilities, in her care, and to keep him in the community in which he is member.  A Notice of Application has been filed in the Federal Court calling on the Attorney General of Canada to adopt Jordon’s Principle in this particular situation - to provide the same care and services as every other resident in Nova Scotia.
In December 2007, Jordan’s Principle was adopted in the House of Commons. Jordan’s Principle was named in honour of Jordan River Anderson of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, who was born with complex medical needs and spent over two years unnecessarily in hospital because federal and provincial governments could not agree on who should pay for his care in a specialized foster home in his community. Jordan passed away at age 5 having spent his whole life in a hospital. Despite the fact that Jeremy’s situation meets the necessary circumstances under which this support can be accessed, extensive efforts to get clear information from the Canadian government on accessing the Jordan’s Principle funding has not resulted in the assistance that Jeremy requires.  
“First Nations children have an equal right for care and support as every other, but it seems that there is a double standard in Canada”, said Maurina Beadle.  She added, “This is a form of discrimination, and I want to fight not only for Jeremy, but all those other families that share our struggles just to keep our families together.”  However, there is no assisted living funding for children with disabilities who live on reserves and the Pictou Landing First Nation Government continues to pay for Jeremy’s services through the already underfunded and vitally needed Assisted Living and Home and Community Care programs.
The lack of support and funding for a child like Jeremy to remain in the community and the push to
institutionalize him can be likened to the former Indian Residential Schools policy, whereby the government decided that it is better able to care for First Nations children in an institution rather than the First Nation community in which they are a member.  In addition to this, there is currently only one institution in Nova Scotia that accepts children under 18 years old, and that even at the $350 per day that it was estimated that it would cost INAC to place him there, it was not equipped to provide the level of care that he would require. Thus, this would require Jeremy to be placed in an institution outside of the province.
This case is intended to bring an end to First Nations children and youth on reserve being denied
services, or the same quality of service, available to all other children because of government
jurisdictional disputes sparked by the child’s racial status.  This is something Canada agreed to do
voluntarily in 2007 when it adopted Jordan’s Principle. Four years later, the government of Canada has failed to implement Jordan’s Principle properly and youth like Jeremy are still being left out in the cold.  
Attached is a background document that provides additional context. For more information, or to set
up an interview with Jeremy’s mother, Maurina, please contact:
Philippa Pictou
(902) 641-2076
(902) 305 2858

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