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TIFF 2019 Review: Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger

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A dispute between the governments of Canada and Manitoba over the healthcare funding for Indigenous child Jordan River Anderson leads to the establishment of the Jordan Principle.

Born in 1999 with a rare muscular disorder known as Carey Fineman Ziter Syndrome, Jordan River Anderson was cleared to leave the hospital at the age of two live with his family; however, this never came to be as neither the federal or provincial government wanted to take financial responsibility for the required homecare which resulted from the patient having Native Status.   At the age of five Jordan died in hospital and two years later a private members bill was passed in the House of Commons of Canada know as the Jordan Principal which promised equal access to healthcare services for First Nations children with special needs.  However, it was not until after several legal appeals and ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in 2016 that finally led to the federal government to take responsibility.

It is sobering and heart-wrenching story documented by filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin where money overrules the health and well-being of disadvantaged children.  Actual family footage highlights the short life of Jordan River Anderson and the people dedicated to improving his quality of life.  Anderson family members, hospital staff and politicians are interviewed as well as others from First Nation community affected by the jurisdictional dispute.    What is remarkable are people coming together for a cause and their unwavering persistence over the years to fight for what they believe is for equality and justice.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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