Posts Tagged “first nations”

Medicine Man Yellow Plume, Roland W. Reed, 1912 Img172Most families will do everything possible to save the lives of their members. That is, after all, the rational thing to do. That said, not all families are that rational. Some place their metaphysics above everything … including life itself. Occasionally these lunatic nutcases even get help from others in their effort to kill their own members over metaphysics. The Hamilton (ON) Spectator reports a provincial judge just gave this sort of “help” to First Nations families in Canada (WebCite cached article):

Aboriginal children now have the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment in favour of traditional healing.

A “precedent-setting” ruling made that clear Friday in the case of a First Nations girl refusing chemotherapy.

But it has nothing to do with whether aboriginal medicine works.

Instead, it’s about Canada’s constitution protecting aboriginal rights.

Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward has now expanded those rights to include traditional healing, saying: “There is no question it forms an integral part.”

It’s great to see judges so obsessed with adhering strictly to the letter of the law — as they see it — that they’re willing to make certain that people die, all over Canada, for no valid reason. Why let nasty little things like rationality get in the way of that? </sarcasm>

What makes this even worse than the fact that two little girls are likely to die soon, is the giddiness with which this decision has been embraced:

“This is monumental for our people all across the country,” Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said after the ruling in Brantford.

“This is precedent-setting for us.”

First Nations spectators in the standing-room-only courtroom burst into applause and tears as Edward dismissed an application by McMaster Children’s Hospital to have the girl apprehended by Brant Family and Children’s Services and forced into treatment.

“I feel I’ve transcended something bigger than all of us,” said the girl’s aunt when she phoned the mother to deliver the news.

These people have doomed not just one, but two girls — as well as unknown numbers of future children — to certain death. And they’ve got the audacity to applaud themselves over it. How fucking disgraceful!

Justice Edward errs by viewing the effectiveness of conventional medicine as the “western medical paradigm,” or a mere cultural viewpoint. The truth is, it’s no such thing, and for the Justice to say so is a lie. Science-based medicine is not a paradigm or “viewpoint,” any more than — say — the laws of gravitation are just a “viewpoint”: One doesn’t merely opine or fantasize that an object will fall to the floor if one drops it, one knows it will, because the mechanism of gravity has been worked out and it’s predictable. Similarly, science-based medicine works toward rational conclusions based upon objective evidence. There’s nothing “viewpoint-y” about it. Treatments are evaluated and their effectiveness measured.

Metaphysical medicine, on the other hand, has no objective basis whatsoever. People just conjure shit up and do it, then tell themselves it worked, without understanding physiological mechanisms, and without even caring about effectiveness. They rely on appeals to tradition as well as other fallacies, confuse the placebo effect with actual recovery from a condition, and bellyache and whine about how “Big Pharma” profits from conventional medicine, therefore it must all be a lie (conveniently failing to mention that a lot of alternative-medicine practitioners make a lot of money peddling their bullshit, nonsense, and lies).

Put bluntly, wishing (as I do) that First Nations children all have an opportunity to survive into adulthood, is not an imposition of western cultural values on Canada’s aboriginal peoples. It’s a desire that they live, so long as it’s possible … and nothing more.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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St. Michael's residential school, Alert Bay, BCThe Roman Catholic clerical abuse scandal has erupted a few times over the last decade, and especially during the last year — in a cascade of revelations beginning with the release of the Ryan Report just over a year ago — but elsewhere, scandals of a similar nature have been dealt with for much longer, and are getting closer to a resolution. An example of this is the Canadian residential schools scandal. The abuses of the period in question came to light some time ago, and the Canadian government has been working on compensating victims for over a decade. The question — for all that time — has not been whether or not the Canadian government and the churches who operated the residential schools did anything wrong, but over what kind of compensation would be provided to the victims, their survivors, and the rest of the native peoples.

CTV reports on what victims said at a hearing before a commission set up to address this matter:

Hundreds of aboriginals gathered in Winnipeg Wednesday to share their stories of abuse suffered during years of living in Canada’s disgraced residential school system.

The hearing was the first in a series of seven national events being run by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims to document the physical and sexual abuse and other horrors endured by children at residential schools across Canada.

While there’s still a lot of debate over this effort in Canada — including victims who think not enough has been done, and others who think it’s going to cost the country too much — the fact is that a resolution is being worked out. The same cannot be said for the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to evade its guilt and its responsibilities, and continues to view the scandal dysfunctionally, as a spiritual attack upon it by the forces of Satan, rather than as a catastrophic moral and ethical failing of its own making. The Vatican ought to watch what’s happening in Canada, and be ashamed of themselves for not being as willing to admit fault and change its ways.

Photo credit: Canada’s World.

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