Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Spirit Bears

The School of Nursing and the Nursing Undergraduate Society have adopted two bears — an adult named Kenkeknem and a cub named Ckenmim’elt — as part of an initiative spearheaded by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

SON bears watching

The stuffed bruins act as a reminder of our collective commitments and responsibilities to enact and uphold the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action and Jordan’s Principle, “bearing witness” to ensure nursing curriculum and faculty development meet these requirements.

Kenkeknem and Ckenmim’elt travel with faculty and student nurses to be present at local, provincial, national and international conferences, events and occasions; and have been officially welcomed to Senate with their own chairs at the head table. A set of responsibilities has been accepted as part of the adoption process Both School of Nursing faculty, led by Sheila Blackstock, and Nursing Undergraduate Society students, steered by Gabby Fisher, share responsibility for the bears’ safety, scheduling and promoting appearances.

What is Jordan’s Principle?

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a significant directive, compelling the federal government to comprehensively execute Jordan's Principle by May 10, 2016. This principle is designed to guarantee that First Nations children have unfettered access to all public services in a manner that not only respects their cultural nuances but also takes into consideration the historical disadvantages they have faced due to colonization. The central tenet of Jordan's Principle is to eliminate any instances of service denials, delays, or disruptions solely based on the child's First Nation status.

At its core, Jordan's Principle strives to rectify historical injustices by ensuring that First Nations children receive equitable and timely access to essential public services. The principle recognizes and seeks to address the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities, acknowledging the impact of historical disadvantage linked to colonization. By implementing Jordan's Principle, the goal is to create an environment where First Nations children can avail themselves of public services without encountering discriminatory barriers, allowing them to thrive and develop in a manner consistent with their cultural identity.

It sets a precedent for acknowledging the rights and needs of First Nations children, emphasizing the imperative of cultural sensitivity and historical context in the delivery of public services. As a result, the implementation of Jordan's Principle serves as a pivotal step towards fostering a more just and equitable society, where the rights and well-being of First Nations children are prioritized and safeguarded.

Our accepted responsibilities for adoption

  • Teach the bears the local language and culture.
  • Have a naming ceremony for the bears.
  • Commit to a series of annual reconciliation events.


Watch for these symbolic representatives “bearing witness” at events near you. Follow Kenkeknem and Ckenmim’elt on their blog, and remember to tag your shots with them #bearprinciples!

* Please practise cultural sensitivity when posting and interacting with the bears over social media.