By Bailey Sutherland
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On the five-year anniversary of a trial verdict that sparked an uproar across the nation, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says they are standing in solidarity with the family of Colten Boushie.
On Feb. 9, 2018, Gerald Stanley was found not guilty in the fatal shooting of Boushie, a 22-year-old man from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation.
On August 9, 2016, Boushie and four other Indigenous youth entered the driveway of Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask. after they claimed to be experiencing car trouble. Following a confrontation between Stanley and the vehicle’s occupants, Boushie was shot in the back of the head.
Stanley testified at trial that his gun accidentally went off.
The jury subsequently acquitted him of second-degree murder.
According to FSIN, the Boushie family maintains that the jury was compromised of five non-Indigenous people who were not representational of the area’s population, and were limited due to a “colonial mindset”.
“On that day, Indigenous people around the world were angry and defeated and since that day of the not guilty verdict, there has been very little done to improve the justice system in Canada,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “Representation of First Nations people as judges, on juries and inquiry boards, remains a challenge for Indigenous people facing criminal trials, knowing their lives are in the hands of potentially racist and biased people. We call for more laws to improve race representation and eliminate bias.”
“The underrepresentation of First Nations in positions of power in the justice system and government is blatantly clear when we look at the races in jail and not in jail. Stanley was let free with only a fine for improper storage of firearms when he took a human life,” said FSIN Second Vice Chief Edward Lerat. “If that had been a young white man killed, what would the jury have determined that day.”
Members of FSIN will be participating in the National Day of Action screening and speaker panel discussion at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Saskatchewan MLT Lecture Theatre in honour of Boushie’s life. The event is hosted by Sunchild Law and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Panel speakers include Colten Boushie’s mother Debbie Baptiste, Lawyer Eleanore Sunchild, Treaty Commissioner Mary Culberson and Anti-racism Educator Sheelah McLean.
The Boushie family is continuing to celebrate Colten’s memory and make the public aware of how he died. Use of the hashtags #JusticeForColten is encouraged for those posting words of support for the Boushie family and the National Day of Action.
More information can be found online in a National Film Board film directed by Tasha Hubbard, Nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up.
Bailey Sutherland is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with PRINCE ALBERT DAILY HERALD. The LJI program is federally funded. The Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.