This is the Sarah Hershberger case only with Native healing treatments.
McMaster Children’s Hospital delivered a message to the Sault family Wednesday with an ultimatum; either bring their daughter Makayla back to McMaster or another hospital for chemotherapy, or treat the child with exclusively with alternative therapy via Ongwehowe Onongwatri:to (traditional medicines) and get reported to the Children’s Aid Society for failure to protect your child.
McMaster Children’s Hospital staff are aware that the Ojibwe family has been treating their 11 year old daughter with Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo: (indigenous medicines) via a traditional healer on Six Nations. However they said that because there are no studies done to give hard statistics on the efficacy of using Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo in treating Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia with a positive Philladelphia chromosome, the hospital is viewing the Sault family’s choice of following Makayla’s wishes to use traditional medicines instead of chemotherapy as failing to provide proper medical care for the child.
Now, the family has taken additional steps to protect their rights and Makayla’s rights to use culturally appropriate alternative medicines. The New Credit First Nation Band Council has issued a letter of support to the family and stated in a meeting on Monday that they would unequivocally support the Sault family, and not permit anyone to forcibly remove the child from the reserve.
Makayla had major adverse reactions to the numerous chemotherapies that she was administered and as a result asked her parents to stop the treatments and instead give her traditional medicines. Current pharmaceutical protocol involving the type of cancer Makayla has is aggressive and involves a number of chemotherapies administered simultaneously. In one case, her mother says the 65lb child was given the adult dosage.
Sault said that McMaster presented options via a mediator Wednesday morning, saying while Makayla is being treated exclusively with Onongwatri:yo: on the New Credit First Nation the oncologists at McMaster still want to monitor her bloodwork through the family’s physician. However the hospital says they are now obligated under the Child and Family Services Act to report Makayla to the Children’s Aid Society as a “child in need of protection”.
The hospital officials have stated the use of these alternatives is “irrational”. It’s not. It’s belief-based so they appear to be acting rationally in their own frame of mind. Once again we are faced with almost a right to die argument. Can a child who is in agreement be FORCED to undergo treatment? I’m thinking there is no good answer here.
This issue of using traditional meds may be brought up at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There may be an existing law that is strong enough to protect her wishes: According to Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada, indigenous people have the right to utilize traditional medicines without discrimination and they cannot be forcibly removed from their traditional territory.
Tip: Mike Weinberg