Dr. Cindy Blackstock Presented with a Key to the City

Today, at City Hall, a Key to the City was presented to Dr. Cindy Blackstock, who has been a tireless advocate for Indigenous children for over 30 years.

“With Bear Witness Day today, I’m pleased to recognize Dr. Blackstock with a Key to the City in recognition of her decades of advocacy,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Canada is a better place because of Dr. Blackstock and the incredible work she has undertaken on behalf of Indigenous children and for reconciliation.”

A member of the Gitxsan First Nation, Dr. Blackstock is a professor at McGill University’s School of Social Work and Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She collaborates to promote cultural-based equity for First Nations children and their families through public education, engagement and litigation. Dr. Blackstock is best known for her work on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) in 2016 which found the federal government’s practices as discriminatory, forcing the provision of equitable child welfare services for Indigenous children. As a result, the federal government must implement Jordan’s Principle and take a child-first approach to ensure all First Nations children in Canada can access the supports they need. 

Jordan’s Principle is named in honour of Jordan River Anderson from Norway House Cree Nation. Jordan passed away at the age of five after jurisdictional disputes between provincial and federal governments over who was responsible to pay for his medical care. 

The first order that was made by the CHRT called for the federal government to implement Jordan’s Principle by May 10, 2016. From that day forward, May 10 has been recognized as Bear Witness Day as a way to educate and create awareness about the importance of Jordan’s Principle. Since July 2016, over a million products, services and supports have been approved for First Nations children under Jordan’s Principle. 

“When I first created the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle (MIAC) as a way to help build bridges in our community, I was honoured to have Dr. Blackstock join and provide her insight,” said Mayor Bowman. “Dr. Blackstock continues to be a caring friend to Winnipeg and she has been generous in sharing her counsel, compassion, and wisdom, as we’ve set out on our Journey of Reconciliation. Today, it is a pleasure to recognize someone who spends so much time working for the benefit of others.” 

Along with MIAC, Dr. Blackstock was instrumental in the creation of the City of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, a tool that brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers together to explore reconciliation. She is committed to seeing the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and helping Canadians learn more about reconciliation. 

The Key to the City is Winnipeg’s highest honour, and recognizes the significant contributions of dignitaries visiting the city. Today’s Key to the City presentation to Cindy Blackstock is the sixth Key to the City awarded by Mayor Bowman. Previous recipients include organ donation advocates Bernadine and Toby Boulet, musician and philanthropist David Foster, hockey legend Teemu Selanne, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conductor Alexander Mickelthwate, and internationally renowned ballerina and dancer Evelyn Hart.