First Nations leaders are applauding an Ontario judge’s decision, after he ruled an 11-year-old aboriginal girl with cancer has a constitutional right to forgo chemotherapy in favour of traditional medicine.
Ava Hill: Six Nations Band Chief: “I’m proud to be an aboriginal person. Proud to be a Haudenosaunee today and that we, you know, somebody is recognizing that we said that we’ve always had.”
New Credit First Nations Chief Brian LaForme: “It just re-affirms our right to be able to practice our medicines and our traditions in our own way.”
In the case, the band had argued that native people and traditional medicine have been practiced here long before Canada was formed, and therefore it is their right to choose traditional treatment over chemotherapy. McMaster Children’s Hospital argued that this girl has no chance of survival without chemo, and therefore is a child in need of protection.
The ruling by judge Gethin Edward did not focus on which treatment would be more effective but agreed with the bands argument, saying plainly “It is this court’s decision therefore, that (this mother’s) decision to pursue traditional medicine for her daughter. It is her aboriginal right.
Brant Family and Children’s Services, who chose not to intervene, has mixed emotions
Andy Koster, Brant FACS: “I can’t be happy about today because it’s such a tragic, you know a tragic situation all around. I’m just glad that out of this tragic situation, you now, and very stressful situation we have certain rights confirmed.”
McMaster Children’s Hospital has always been clear in their diagnosis that this girl stood a 95% chance of survival with chemotherapy.
Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, McMaster Children’s Hospital President: “We remain focused and hopeful that this family will return to care because without conventional treatment this child has no chance of survival.”
With the ruling clear in emphasizing that this is more about aboriginal rights and not what was the best medical decision for this young girl, the question then is, what happens if she dies?