Newfound Aboriginal Right to Pursue Traditional Medicine

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Adam M Shehata

Keywords

Substitute Decision-Making, Aboriginal Rights, Consent and Capacity, Constitutional Law, Ethics

Abstract

This paper discusses the newfound aboriginal right to pursue traditional medicine. A 2014 Ontario court decision relating to J.J., an 11-year-old First Nation girl with leukemia, is analyzed. The events leading up to the court case are followed by a description and analysis of the courts decision, which found for the first time in Canada that there is an aboriginal right to pursue traditional medicine on behalf of a child, despite the medical evidence that chemotherapy would almost certainly result in remission; and the absence of chemotherapy would almost certainly result in death. The paper concludes that the case provides limited guidance for those that find themselves in similar situations in the future and demonstrates the need for collaborative problem solving when making treatment decisions for children, perhaps through the use of mediators or ethicists.