Monday, March 15, 2021

Letter to Indigenous Senators: Bill C-7 will hurt our communities.

Graydon Nicholas
Senators Daniel Christmas, Brian Francis and Lovelace Nicholas:

Bill C-7 is currently in its final stages before the Senate. MAiD will be allowed for Canadians who are not dying but who suffer from physical illness and will soon include mental illness as sole criteria for choosing death.

This will adversely impact our indigenous populations in Canada, and I am concerned that indigenous consultation did not transpire and has been trivial thus far. Imposing MAiD on our communities, which is not coherent with our beliefs about life and death, is a form of cultural colonialism. We have lived through forced sterilization and residential schooling, and do not want other practices imposed on our people. We are already experiencing a suicide epidemic and we do not need the government to help even more of our people to end their lives. If the government goes through with Bill C-7, it will inflict a new generational trauma on our communities.

Our indigenous people experience severe health inequalities compared to non-indigenous persons in many areas including chronic illness, disabilities and mental illness. This is compounded by limited access to health services. Our life expectancy is 10-15 years lower than the national average and this is caused mainly by our burden of mental illness and suicide completion. Our people also endure poverty, food insecurity, and high rates of unemployment - social determinants that negatively impact all health outcomes.

I am also alarmed given the impact of Bill C-7 on our efforts to combat the indigenous suicide crisis. Our consistent message to our community is that healing, hope and resiliance are possible, and suicide is not an option.

Bill C-7 will threaten the lives of our people. It is unacceptable that such a bill is about to be passed. I am asking for your help that some requirement or clarification that persons with untreated mental illness, who are not dying, be excluded from eligibility for MAiD if they have not received the standard of care treatment.

Sincerly
Graydon Nicholas
Wolastoqiyik Nation

Graydon Nicholas served as the appointed 30th Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick (2009-2014). He was the first Aboriginal person to hold the office of Lieutenant Governor, the first to be appointed as a provincial court judge (in 1991), and the first in Atlantic Canada to obtain a law degree.

13 comments:

Unknown said...

Powerfully written Graydon!

Angie said...

This is a very well written letter. Thank you for standing up for all people of this country by not being silent to our leaders.

Harry De Vries. said...

You have my respect for what you wrote. Thank You!

H. De Vries.

K Chan said...

It is cold blooded and unconscionable that the Liberal government would do this to our citizens who are suffering from psychological pain or mental illness with Bill C-7. Instead of offering them hope and support, the government offer to end their lives!

K Chan said...

It is cold blooded and unconscionable. The government is doing this with Bill C-7 to the citizens who suffer from psychological pain or mental illness. Instead of offering them hope and support, the government offer to end their lives!

Unknown said...

Well said.Thank you.Eithne Whelan

dougsned said...

Not everyone gets better. Instead some people spend decades in treatment bouncing in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Those people should be eligible for MAID. Most Canadians surveyed support C-7.

dougsned said...

Then again Christians see suffering as a virtue. For Christ suffered relentlessly on the cross, others must do the same.

I am the author of my own fate, Alex. Having had no choice in my birth, I would like a choice of my death. Most Canadians support MAID.

To quote Graydon: "I am asking for your help that some requirement or clarification that persons with untreated mental illness, who are not dying, be excluded from eligibility for MAiD if they have not received the standard of care treatment."

He does not oppose MAID for mental illness completely. Only for those who have not exhausted all reasonable attempts at treatment. Do you think that anybody with depression can walk into a clinic for a lethal injection? The bill explicitly stipulates that it's for severe refractory mental illness.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Graydon for expressing your concerns on behalf of your people.
Chris Montreuil

Audrey Martin said...

Thank you for this! The changes in Bill C-7 are a slap in the face to those in the indigenous communities who struggle so much with mental health issues yet of course there is so much potential in the individuals and the communities at large.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Doug:

Lets not confuse Graydon's comments concerning the affect of the mental illness amendment and support or opposition to Bill C-7. Graydon also signed this letter: https://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2021/02/indigenous-peoples-should-not-be.html

Gord Lang said...

I would like to address some of the prior comments made on this subject.
"Then again Christians see suffering as a virtue. For Christ suffered relentlessly on the cross, others must do the same." Who ever gave you that idea??! Christ suffered relentlessly on the cross so that others would not have to do the same!!

"Most Canadians support MAID." I, for one, have never seen a public opinion poll in which every eligible Canadian voter has been given the opportunity to vote on whether or not they support MAiD. So how can anyone make such a statement? This is the type of generalizations and flawed logic that gives rise to this entire debate.

Unknown said...

Our people have suffered enough already. This is just another way to get rid of us.