Thursday, November 30, 2023

Euthanasia cannot be "culturally safe"

Medical killing obviously undermines cultural preservation.
By Amanda Achtman
Amanda Achtman
Health Canada is currently conducting a survey of Indigenous perspectives on Canada’s euthanasia program.

These are some examples of the highly leading questions the Government is using in its attempt to solicit support for euthanasia from Indigenous respondents:
  • What supports should be in place to allow Indigenous people to make decisions about MAID?
  • What supports should be in place to help someone preparing for their MAID journey? What supports should be in place to help their families and caregivers?
  • If you have supported or are supporting a loved one who has chosen MAID, what was your experience with the process?
The purported intent of collecting such data is to ensure “cultural safety” which the Government defines as: 
“A way of being that is created by a trusting and respectful environment. Culturally safe practices are actions in colonized spaces where Indigenous Peoples, families and communities feel respected, included, welcomed and comfortable expressing all aspects of who they are as Indigenous Peoples.”
I am reminded of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s critique of an ideological colonialism that persists today which he described as “the imposition of a false morality and deceitful values.”

Premature death through medical killing is precisely this kind of imposition.

According to a Statistics Canada report, 
“Suicide rates among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit were significantly higher than the rate among non-Indigenous people. The rate among First Nations people (24.3 deaths per 100,000 person-years at risk) was three times higher than the rate among non-Indigenous people (8.0 deaths per 100,000 person-years at risk). Among First Nations people living on reserve, the rate was about twice as high as that among those living off reserve.”
Killing, whether through suicide or euthanasia, obviously undermines cultural preservation insofar as it destroys persons, the bearers of culture.

Despite having high rates of suicide, this is not a sign that it is an Indigenous value. On the contrary, suicide is a sign of distress, trauma, and inadequate support to live.

If Canada euthanizes Indigenous persons, this will go down in national shame like the forced sterilizations and other dehumanizing eugenic practices perpetuated due to “deceitful values.”

I hope more Indigenous persons will speak out against the Government’s euthanasia regime and the explicit targeting of First Nations support for it.

In case you missed it, I invite you to check out the short film I produced about Eulalia Running Rabbit, a Blackfoot elder, on why she opposes euthanasia.


Unknown said...

One of the most sound aspects of any culture is how they care for their vulnerable people. In the past, when peoples were nomadic and lived completely utilitarian lives, "mercy killing" might have seemed to them a legitimate solution, particularly among cruel groups like the Phoenicians. But a better understanding of medicine and a more pastoral/urban lifestyle emerged, then need for utilitarian practices became less critical and not necessary. The concept of HOSPITALS emerged as places to augment care at critical and end-of-life times, but never places to terminate life. They began under the care of religious orders, first to care for their own members and then others in the local community. This made the violent euthanasia killings in places like Sardinia, Sicily, Tunisia, and Crete unacceptable when coupled with the religious value of life. Indigenous peoples were actually less likely to kill off their suffering people. It was European settlers who had less respect for the indigenous people who often compelled them to abandon the ill and infirm under pressure of death and other abusive practices. Indigenous ill might refrain from relocating with the tribe, but there were prescribed care protocols and would upon recovery rejoin with the tribe later. Their practices were contiguous with their beliefs in the Creator, and His gift of life as precious and valuable, and not so utilitarian as to take life for granted. If they had done otherwise, loss of their land and resources to settlers would have been less impacting and accepted carte blanche. But the European distrust of them as "godless savages" created the white supremacist disregard and blamed the indigenous for the false assumptions of a lesser value of life projected on them. Real compassionate care for the less able is an indigenous tradition. Mercy killing was and is for the most part not common. Much of the higher suicide rate in our time is fueled by disparities leveled by unfair and inequitable treatment by white society. One of the most prolific acts of covert violence of White Supremacy is that white people know more of what people of color or minorities need than they know of themselves, as if they are unable to think, reason, or feel emotion and love.

Deacon William Orazio Gallerizzo
Catholic Pastoral Bioethics

Paul Anderson said...

I contacted the AFN early in 2016 to express concern that the proposal to offer MAiD as as "service" to which one had a "right" might amount to an indirect attack on the Indigenous population, given the statistically higher suicide risk among Indigenous people, youth in particular, and the over representation of Indigenous people in the incarcerated population. The AFN was already well aware of this possibility.