Thompson Rivers University

Teddy bears picnic for human rights

May 21, 2019

Two teddy bears enjoy the sunshine while celebrating Bear Witness Day on May 10, 2019 at Cariboo Child Care.

Stuffed bears of all shapes, colours and ages showed up for a teddy bear picnic.

Gathered at Cariboo Child Care, TRU’s on-campus daycare, they were there for Bear Witness Day—a day recognizing that all Indigenous children, living on-reserve or off, have the legal right to access public supports and services when they need them.

Bear Witness Day 2019

Joanna Carmichael of Cariboo Child Care shares a story during Bear Witness Day.

Jordan’s Principle

This legal right is known as Jordan’s Principle, and honours Jordan River Anderson, a young Indigenous boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who died in 2005 while the governments of Manitoba and Canada were trying to determine who had responsibility over treating his medical condition.

“This was a great way to share Jordan’s Principle with families in our centre and to show our support for this child-first principle,” said Joanna Carmichael, a staff member at Cariboo Child Care and a graduate of TRU’s Early Childhood Education program in 2014.

Bearing witness today and tomorrow

“Participating in Bear Witness Day was a practical example of indigenizing the workplace. It allowed adults, as well as the children, to participate in a developmentally appropriate way by bringing a teddy bear,” said Carmichael.

Toddlers and children aged three through five had a lunch picnic, while infants had theirs later in the afternoon. “We worked as a team to organize the event so each program could participate in a way they were able to,” said Carmichael.

“If we continue to participate annually, hopefully, it will be something the children may remember and connect to as they grow and enter the school systems,” said Carmichael.

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