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Battle to get care for local youth featured in documentary

The story of a Pictou Landing mother’s fight to have quality care for her son at home will now be featured as part of a documentary set to be shown at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax this week.

Maurina Beadle is pictured in this file photo from 2012 with her son Jeremy Meawasige. She taught him to drum while caring for him at her home at the Pictou Landing reserve.

The documentary called We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice was directed by Alanis Obomsawin and tells the story First Nation people trying to get proper care for youth on reserves.

Part of the documentary is devoted to Maurina Beadle of the Pictou Landing First Nations Reserve and her legal battle to get the federal government to take responsibility for the financial cost of caring for her son Jeremy Meawasige using the Jordan’s Principle. The Jordan’s Principle maintains that First Nations children should get the public help they need, regardless of jurisdictional disputes between government.

Beadle’s son suffers from cerebral palsy, autism, spinal curvature and hydrocephalus – a debilitating accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain. As a result he needs 24 hour care. Beadle has spent much of his life fighting for the proper care at home on the reserve. She’s pleased that the story is being shared as part of this larger story of the fight of the aboriginal community.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” she said.

Last week she was busy making plans to go to a screening of the film along with Jeremy.

Beadle said Obomsawin had called her personally and invited her to go.

“It would be so wonderful if you could bring Jeremy with you,” she said.

Beadle has been able to arrange the details so that he can go and is looking forward to watching it on Wednesday when it is shown at the Cineplex Cinemas Park Lane Theatre 2 in Halifax.

While Beadle ultimately won her fight to keep her son at home, it wasn’t easy. But then, nothing has been easy for her in the last couple of decades.

Doctors had warned Beadle when she was pregnant that her son could have serious issues and recommended that she abort. She refused.

“How can I know anything until I give it a chance?” she said.

She was determined her son would have the chance at life.

Medical experts told her, her son would never walk, never talk and never to be able to do simple tasks such as feeding himself. To a certain extent they were right. He has struggled throughout his life, but when his mother has been able to devote her attention to him, he’s improved far beyond their expectations. She believes a large part of that is because he was at home rather than in an institution.

The case to provide financial support to provide care at home reached the Supreme Court of Canada. They decided in April 2013, that the federal government was wrong to pay for only part of Meawasige’s care. The federal government appealed the decision but later decided to drop the appeal.

Meawasige is now 21. He’s still at home thanks to his mother who has refused to give up.

“I wouldn’t give him up for the world,” she said.



About the film

Title: We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice


In 2007, the Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a landmark discrimination complaint against Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada. We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice documents this epic court challenge, giving voice to the tenacious childcare workers at its epicentre; especially Caring Society executive director Cindy Blackstock, who was spied on and harassed by the federal government for her part in this saga. Celebrated documentarian Alanis Obomsawin (Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance) takes us through all the stages of this long legal battle without ever losing sight of the well-being of children and the sustainability of indigenous culture.


Director: Alanis Obomsawin


Writer: Alanis Obomsawin


Producer: Annette Clarke


Editor: Alison Burns


Country: Canada


Runtime: 163 minutes

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