by Nahnda Garlow
SIX NATIONS – Late Friday, Two Row Times learned that the CAS and McMaster Children’s Hospital are seeking a push from the courts to forcibly return Jada Johnson into chemotherapy. The 11-year-old female from Six Nations was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in August.
Initially the CAS did inform the child’s mother Deneen Hill, that they had no issue with her decision to seek a holistic hybrid method of Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo and other alternative therapies as treatment for Jada. This form of treatment will also be monitored by doctors.
However now sources say an unnamed third party is involved in bringing the CAS to court to order the child be put back into chemotherapy.
If the court makes that decision, it would violate Articles 10 & 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; that indigenous people cannot be forcibly removed from their lands without free and prior consent, and the right to use traditional medicines and health care practices without discrimination.
After completing 11-days of a 32-day round of intense chemotherapy, the child’s mother stopped the treatments because Hill says her daughter was experiencing severe reactions to standard chemo. That is when Hill opted to end chemotherapy and brought Jada home to instead start a traditional indigenous treatment program combined with other alternatives.
When Hill announced she was pulling Jada from the chemo treatments, CAS was contacted and they initiated a family visit.
Hill previously told the Two Row Times that CAS had no issue with her decision since she is willing to be cooperative with the hospital and a doctor from McMaster who would be tracking her progress. However now the CAS and McMaster Children’s Hospital are bringing the issue to court this Monday.
This is the second child from the Six Nations/New Credit community to have an ALL diagnosis and who reacted badly to standard chemotherapy treatments given at McMaster Children’s Hospital.
Earlier this year, Makayla Sault, also 11 years old, endured 11 weeks of chemotherapy at McMaster Children’s Hospital and endured severe side effects. After being informed by doctors that it is known that First Nations Children don’t fare well in chemo, Sault’s parents pulled her from chemo in favor of treatment through Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo medicines and alternative therapies. A decision that the New Credit Band Council and other band councils across the country supported. A large gathering of indigenous people from across the province also organized, the Makayla Defense Force, who said they were ready to peaceably ensure that the child would not be removed from her territory.
Sault’s parents previously told the Two Row Times that a doctor at McMaster told her that anyone who tells them indigenous medicines work “should be thrown in jail.”
The Sault family was also threatened by personnel from McMaster Children’s Hospital with CAS enforcement, being told that if they did not keep Makayla in treatment that CAS would be contacted and that they would likely remove all three of their children.
Eventually the CAS did become involved, however, they did not have objections to the child being treated with indigenous medicines while being monitored by the family’s physician.
The CAS called a public meeting official where they publicly apologized to the Sault family. The Sault’s also received a letter of apology from McMaster Children’s Hospital earlier this summer.
Sault is now healthy and has returned to school. She continues to receive indigenous medicines to support her immune system and keep her healthy.
Within the Six Nations/New Credit communities the rate of cancer survivorship in after utilizing an holisitc indigenous method of treatment for is high. However because it is considered traditional knowledge, practitioners choose not to put their patients through analysis and judgement by an external scientific review – one that is founded on studies that scrutinize data to establish proof.
This is in contrast to the indigenous perspective which has known thousands of years of experiential proof and knowledge via oral history.
This foundational difference has created a rift – specifically in treating children with cancer. While adults have the freedom to choose the course of treatment, hospitals in Canada who feel that a child is not being provided with what they percieve as proper treatment for illnesses must report the family to the CAS.
This article was originally published in the Two Row Times.