'It's a really big honour': Cindy Blackstock presented with Winnipeg’s key to the city

Cindy Blackstock was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Brian Bowman in a ceremony at Winnipeg City Hall on Tuesday. (Image Source: Scott Andersson/CTV News Winnipeg)

A tireless advocate for child protection and Indigenous children’s rights was presented with Winnipeg’s highest honour.

Cindy Blackstock was presented with the key to the city in a ceremony at Winnipeg City Hall on Tuesday.

It represents Winnipeg’s highest honour, and recognizes the significant contributions of dignitaries visiting the city.

Blackstock is well known for her work on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which ruled in 2016 the federal government discriminated against First Nations children who lived on reserve because of its chronic underfunding of family and child services in their communities.

The findings led to the implementation of Jordan’s Principle—a child-first approach to ensure all First Nations children in Canada can access the supports they need.

It was named for Jordan River Anderson, a boy from Norway House Cree Nation, Man. who died in hospital while the Manitoba and federal governments argued for five years over which should pay for his care in a special home.

Fittingly, the key ceremony was held on Bear Witness Day—an occasion to educate and create awareness about the importance of Jordan’s Principle.

“It’s a really big honour. I mean, this is a city where Jordan River Anderson was in hospital at the Health Sciences Centre, where his family really created the legacy of Jordan’s Principle, and it’s been a place of so much advocacy for Jordan’s Principle,” she said.

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Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said in addition to her work with the tribunal, Blackstock has been a caring and committed friend to the City of Winnipeg, noting her involvement as a member of the mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle.

“She has been so generous in sharing her counsel, compassion, and wisdom as we’ve set out on our journey of reconciliation,” he said.

Bowman also recalled his work with Blackstock on Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, a tool aimed at bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers together to explore reconciliation. He said it was Blackstock’s strong recommendation to involve children in formulating the accord’s vision.

“Through all these decades, through all of her work for justice, Cindy Blackstock has been first and foremost an educator. She’s made every part of the process an opportunity to learn together, with and from children,” he said.

The city will also mark Bear Witness Day by illuminating the Winnipeg sign at The Forks in blue, and is calling on the community to learn more about Jordan’s Principle.