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An 11 y/o is dying of cancer, but a court has ruled she does not have to have chemotherapy.

By SHAUNA ANDERSON

The ruling has divided many opinions.

There is no doubt that the mother loves her daughter.

There is no doubt that all she wants is her dying 11-year old to survive, to overcome the sickness and suffering of the past year.

What has been in dispute has never been this mother’s love, but instead the choices she has made for what she believes is the best interest of her child.

A landmark ruling in Canada has seen a judge side with the family of an aboriginal girl who sought to treat their 11-year old daughter who has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with traditional healing rather than mainstream medicine.

The hospital had fought to force the girl into chemotherapy.

The Globe and Mail report that with chemotherapy the girl, known as ‘JJ’, has a 90 to 95 per cent chance of survival.

Without it, she will die.

The judge, Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward rejected the hospital’s bid instead referring to the Canadian Charter of Rights, which enshrines aboriginal rights that existed prior to contact with Europeans when making his ruling.

“I cannot find that (the girl) is a child in need of protection when her (mother) has chosen to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the (doctors’) stated course of treatment of chemotherapy”

After being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer that arises in the bone marrow in August, JJ initially began treatment.

Ten days in to the 32-day treatment plan her mother pulled her out. She wrote in an open letter to a native newspaper that she did not want her daughter treated with “poison” and would take her to a holistic healing centre in Florida and pursue aboriginal healing instead reports The Globe and Mail.

A proud moment for the Six Nations people.

This is where the hospital stepped in trying to get child welfare services to intervene, but they refused.

The hospital took the welfare agency to court.

In his ruling on Friday the Judge said that

“It is this court’s conclusion therefore, that D.H.’s decision to pursue traditional medicine for her daughter, J.J., is her aboriginal right. Further, such a right cannot be qualified as a right only if it is proven to work by employing the Western medical paradigm. To do so would be to leave open the opportunity to perpetually erode aboriginal rights.”

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Peter Fitzgerald, the president of McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton told The Globe and Mail that the decision was concerning.

“We’ve made it very clear from the beginning that without conventional therapy there is no chance of survival,”

“We have been open to the combination of traditional therapy with conventional medical therapy. But we have no reason to believe that the patient will survive the disease without conventional therapy.”

The girl JJ will now be treated with slippery elm and turkey rhubarb root.

Instead of chemotherapy her mother is preparing her medicines on her stove. And this fact is being applauded as ground-breaking.

Brant Family and Children’s Services executive director Andrew Koster – from the children’s welfare agency that the hospital sued told The Star that he was proud to be part of a decision that furthered aboriginal rights.

“I’m glad out of a tragic situation we have certain rights confirmed.”

The case paves the way for anther First Nations girl, Makayla Sault to pursue traditional medicine.

Makayla’s case gained recognition when she released a YouTube video describing why she had rejected traditional medicine for her cancer.

The Star reports that Makayla’s father – a pastor had withdrawn her from chemotherapy after seeing a vision of Christ in her hospital room telling her she was already healed.

Should a court intervene?

According to The Star both girls have sought treatment at an alternative health centre costing $18,000.

The centre is registered as a massage establishment and run by a nutrition counsellor. “It promotes a positive attitude, eating a raw-plant-based organic diet and ridding your life of contaminants to heal cancer. It believes in curing cancer with a positive attitude as well as eating a raw plant-based organic diet and clearing your life of contaminants. “

The ruling has been celebrated by Aboriginal groups in Canada but condemned by many others.

The Star writes:

“The Friday ruling has nothing to do with whether aboriginal medicine works. Family court heard unequivocally in the case of a First Nations girl refusing chemotherapy that no child has survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia without treatment.

Instead, it’s about Canada’s Constitution protecting aboriginal rights.”

While an editorial in The Globe and Mail says

“The decision is appalling and cries out for reversal. It is tainted by an overwrought defensiveness about the value of aboriginal culture. It runs counter to the traditions of Canada, whose statutes and court rulings have consistently placed the protection of children above the rights and personal beliefs of parents. And it leaves any rational person aghast.”

“It is hard to believe that anyone could be so determined to protect a right that they cannot see the agony J.J. will endure. Without chemotherapy, a young girl’s life is going to be ended by an entirely treatable medical condition.”

What do you think should parents be able to choose the line of medical treatment a child receives? Should constitutional rights be an issue in a child’s treatment?

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