Makayla Sault will not be apprehended by Children's Aid

The Brant, Ont., Children's Aid Society has decided to end its investigation into the Sault family and Makayla Sault will remain at home. Ken and Sonya Sault and child welfare officials met today for the first time since they decided to discontinue chemotherapy for Makayla.

Children's Aid Society says First Nations girl who refused chemotherapy to stay with family

Sonya Sault receives a gift from the Children's Aid Society after it announced the case is closed and Makayla will stay with her family. (Two Row Times/Twitter)

Makayla Sault will remain at home with her family and not be forced back into chemotherapy, say child welfare officials.

Ken and Sonya Sault met with the Brant, Ont., Children's Aid Society this afternoon and were told the investigation into their case will be closed.

"We are satisfied that Makayla is not a child in need of protection and we are closing our case and file on the family," said Andrew Koster, executive director of the Brant Children's Aid Society. 

The Sault family had been worried that officials might attempt to apprehend Makayla because of their controversial decision to discontinue chemotherapy for their daughter and instead rely on traditional medicine.

"This is a loving family, we felt their choice to use traditional medicines was within their right. We also felt that if Makayla was apprehended, the stress and other effects on that child would be terrible." said Koster. "For a child that is ill, they don’t need that. She needs to be with her family."​  

The Saults say their decision to discontinue chemotherapy was criticized by their doctors at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, who told them Makayla could relapse and possibly die if treatment was discontinued. 

In an interview last week, Sonya Sault said Makayla was worried about being forced back into treatment. "She said, 'Mom, can they really take me away from you?' And I said, 'Oh no, they can't take you away from us. We'll do everything in our power to fight for you,'" said Sonya Sault. 

Nahnda Garlow, a family friend who attended the meeting, said it was filled with emotion.

"All of the grandmas were crying, Sonya was crying, saying it was just a big weight lifted off her shoulders. She’s been living in fear for the last six weeks, thinking that her kids were going to be taken from her." 

In an interview last week, Sonya Sault expressed her concern about Children's Aid apprehension.

"Are there going to be OPPs or CAS pulling into our house at any moment? And if that had to happen, we had to have a plan in place. Where does Makayla go? We hide her? We had to have that plan in action."

Garlow said Makayla was not at the meeting, but her family was eager to share the news with her. 

"Just to hear that confirmation that that was not going to happen was an absolute relief.”

Family warned of dire consequences 

Makayla was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January. Her doctors told her family that she would have a 75 per cent chance of survival if she continued treatment. Without the treatment, they warned, she could die.

But her family believe that the traditional medicine she is taking is working.

"She has just as much a fighting chance on traditional medicine as she does without side-effects. She hasn’t had one side-effect being on traditional medicine," said her mother.

During the 11 weeks of chemotherapy, Makayla experienced severe side-effects that put her in the intensive care unit.

The Saults are from the New Credit First Nation near Caledonia, Ont. Their chief and council say they support the family’s decision.

About the Author

Connie Walker

CBC Reporter

Connie Walker is a reporter in the Investigative Unit at CBC News. Follow her on twitter @connie_walker

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.