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Ojibwe Child with Cancer Quits Chemo for Traditional Medicine, Needs Support

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An 11-year-old Ojibwe girl stricken with cancer has refused chemotherapy and opted to rely solely on traditional medicine instead.

Makayla Sault, who resides in the Missisaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Ontario, suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Her body is exhausted from 11 weeks of chemotherapy treatments, she explains in the YouTube video (shown below), and she is now feeling "awesome" after Six Nations traditional medicine known as "Ongwehowe On?hgwatri:yo:".

In her May 7 video, Makayla reads a letter to the Band Council, in which she seeks protection of her right to use indigenous medicines, and for her parents to honor her request.

"I have asked my mom and dad to take me off this treatment because I do not want to go this way anymore," Makayla says. "I am sick to my stomach all the time and I lost about 10 pounds because I couldn't keep nothing down. I know that what I have can kill me, but I don’t want to die in a hospital in chemo, weak and sick."

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Makayla is supported by her parents, Pastors Ken and Sonya Sault, who have allowed her to receive traditional medicine through a healer on Six Nations, reported The Two Row Times.

But because there is no proof of the efficacy of traditional medicine, the hospital is viewing the Sault family’s choice to abandon chemotherapy as failing to provide proper medical care for the child.

"All in all, it's a very tragic situation," Andy Koster, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Brant, told The National Post. "We have to decide as an agency how we wish to handle this.”

The Society boasts a staff of 200 including 40 staff of Aboriginal ancestry who form the Aboriginal Services Department. Makayla's leading oncologist physician Dr. Barr also tried to convince the family not to use indigenous medicines. Makayla's mother told the Band Council that “[Dr. Barr] said to us ‘…anyone who says that traditional medicine works should be thrown in jail.’”

The New Credit First Nation Band Council has issued a letter of support to the Sault family, and both the New Credit First Nation and members of the Six Nations have asserted that they would not permit anyone to forcibly remove Makayla from the reserve.

As for Makayla, she says, "I gained some of my weight back, I'm eating and drinking and I can hold it all down, and I am getting my strength back."