Earlier this week the Missisaugas of New Credit First Nations issued a press release about their experiences with McMaster Children’s Hospital and the treatment one of their children experienced during a critical illness. Here is the statement in it’s entirety.
Makayla Sault is a member of the Missisaugas of New Credit First Nation.
Makayla is currently recovering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and the effects of an 11 week course of chemotherapy she underwent earlier this year. She is under the care of her family, and is receiving traditional medicines to assist with her recovery. She also receives supportive care from their family physician and other medical professionals.
Earlier this year, Makayla and her family reached the difficult decision to forego further chemotherapy, because of the very serious side effects she suffered. These included septic infections, organ damage (which is likely permanent), severe weight loss, vomiting, mouth sores, curvature of the spine, dangerously high levels of toxicity, and devastating pain, nausea and exhaustion. The side effects she suffered were among the worst medical staff had ever seen. She formed the reasonable belief that she was at greater risk of death from the effects of chemotherapy than from leukemia. She and her family chose to instead pursue a course of traditional healing, consistent with the practices of her people since time immemorial.
Makayla is a very mature child, on the brink of adolescence. She understands her condition, the course of her recovery, the medical advice she has received, and the possible consequences of foregoing chemotherapy. In our view, she is legally capable of making decisions for herself concerning her medical treatment, and of providing either informed consent or refusal to such treatment.
Rather than accept Makayla‘s decision, McMaster’s medical staff falsely informed Makayla that she had no ability to make decisions about her own care until she reached the age of 16. They threatened Makayla‘s parents with jail, and the forced removal of not only Makayla, but their other children. Finally, with a view to executing their threats, medical staff contacted Brant Child and Family Services.
Brant Child and Family Services fulfilled its obligations under the Child and Family Services Act, and conducted an investigation. The agency concluded that Saults were a loving, capable, responsible and diligent family, and that Makayla and her parents were not only legally entitled to make decisions regarding her care, but had made a difficult but reasonable decision concerning that care.
At a meeting with the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation and Sault family on May 20, 2014, representatives of Brant Child and Family Services advised us that they were closing their file. They expressed regret at the trauma and further stress caused by their investigation, and the inappropriate .involvement of child welfare authorities.
McMaster Children’s Hospital representatives were invited to this meeting, but failed to attend.
While Brant Child and Family Services reached the correct conclusion with respect to Makayla, their involvement and the resulting anxiety and disruption to Makayla and her family confirms our historic and modern experience that the operation of the Child and Family Services Act with respect to our children within our territory comes at an unacceptably high price.
The Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation have always cared for our children, within our extended families and as a community, despite the disastrous interventions from outsiders and their tragic results. Residential ;schools, the Sixties Scoop, and more recent interference with our families and children, purportedly in their “best interests”, have caused and continue to cause immeasurable harm.
We have never surrendered our inherent right to care for our children, within our families, community and culture. Nor has it been extinguished. Accordingly, we assert our exclusive jurisdiction over the welfare of our children, including Makayla.
The Child and Family Services Act is not binding within our community. The presence and involvement of staff from any outside child welfare agency will be at the discretion and with the express written permission of the Chief and Council of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation.
Any further attempts by any institution to interfere with our children in a manner that, in our view, is contrary to their best interests, and unethical, not be tolerated.
The leaders of many other First Nations communities across Canada are following this case closely and have told us that they are willing to stand behind us to protect our children, including Makayla.
The actions of McMaster Children’s Hospital have caused tremendous harm to Makayla, her family and our community. We will take steps to protect them from any further harm, should they be at risk. The Sault family has asked us to speak on their behalf. Please direct any and all media inquiries to Chief
Bryan LaForme, Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation, at (905) 768-1133.