A not-guilty verdict in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Cree man on a small Saskatchewan farm generated coast-to-coast rallies, heartbreak and pleas for change in the Canadian justice system.
In the days and hours following the acquittal Friday night of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley in the Aug. 9, 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie, thousands gathered not only in Saskatchewan communities such as Saskatoon, North Battleford and Regina, but also in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.
Indigenous, civic and provincial leaders were joined by federal leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in acknowledging the heartbreak felt by Boushie’s family and supporters.
Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Boushie, was angry and defiant at a rally on Saturday in North Battleford. After the verdict was read into the record on Friday, Baptiste screamed as family members restrained her.
“White people — they run the court system. Enough. We’re going to fight back,” Baptiste told a crowd of roughly 100 people at the Saturday rally. “They’re not sweeping us under the carpet. Enough killing our people. We fight back.”
Boushie, a 22-year-old from Red Pheasant First Nation, was fatally shot on Aug. 9, 2016, on Stanley’s farm in the Saskatchewan rural municipality of Glenside. The seven-woman, five-man jury had been given the options of finding Stanley guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, or not guilty of any crime.
The Boushie family has expressed frustration with how the jury was chosen. The Crown and defence lawyers each got 14 peremptory challenges, allowing them to dismiss potential jurors without giving a reason. The defence challenged all visibly-Indigenous potential jurors. Stanley is Caucasian. Boushie is Cree.
Prominent Indigenous leaders, including Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, called for an inquiry into the investigation and trial, as well as ways to ensure more First Nations representation on juries. Federal Justice Minister …read more
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