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Ojibwe Child Will Not Be Taken From Parents or Forced to Resume Chemo

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Eleven-year-old Makayla Sault will not be seized from her parents in Missisaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Ontario, for their allowing her to abandon chemotherapy in favor or traditional medicine, the Executive Director of the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Brant, Andrew Koster, said in a statement.

Makayla, Ojibwe, suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She asked her parents to quit chemotherapy after 11 weeks of treatment that left her exhausted and nauseated. She is now receiving Six Nations traditional medicine known as "Ongwehowe On?hgwatri:yo:" via a Six Nations healer. On May 7, Makayla released a video of her reading a letter to her Band Council requesting their support for her decision to discontinue chemotherapy and rely solely on traditional medicine to treat her cancer.

Previously, Koster called the family's decision "a very tragic situation," and added, "We have to decide as an agency how we wish to handle this."

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Yesterday, Koster stated the agency is stopping its investigation of the matter, reported the Two Row Times. CAS will not apprehend Makayla and force her to resume chemotherapy.

"We do not have any intention of interfering with the family or apprehending Makayla or any of her other siblings. We respect Makayla’s choice. This is a unanimous decision from the Children’s Aid Society. We have no intention of taking this thing any further. We’ve looked at the information at this point that we have. We respect the wishes of the family, the wishes of Makayla and the wishes of the community. We will not be apprehending. We want to keep our word," Koster said at a community meeting of about 40 invited officials and dozens of supporters Tuesday afternoon.

Sally Rivers, the director of aboriginal services for the Brant CAS, noted that the agency "acknowledges and respects [indigenous] medicine," and added that she and the organization "acknowledge and honour Makayla’s choice."
Rivers also told CTV that she and her colleagues "did not feel it was … our job to force Makayla to do treatment she and her family felt was not being of benefit to her."

Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Chief Bryan LaForme thanked Makayla's many supporters in attendance for respecting the Nation's decision to stand by the Sault family. "Chief and Council also support the decision that the family have made," he said.

At the close of the meeting, Rivers presented the Saults with a blanket and a braid of sweetgrass, and offered words of reconciliation on behalf of the Native Services Branch of the CAS, reported the Two Row Times.