‘Enough killing our peo­ple’

Stan­ley ver­dict gen­er­ates ral­lies and pleas for change

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - NATIONAL NEWS - DAVE DEIB­ERT — Files from Erin Petrow and Alex McPher­son

A not-guilty ver­dict in the fa­tal shoot­ing of a 22-yearold 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 sev­en­woman, 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 Jodi Wil­son-Ray­bould said the lack of Indige­nous rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the Stan­ley jury is a con­cern for her and the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

Mos­quito First Na­tion Chief Daniel Starchief strug­gled to de­scribe how he felt af­ter hear­ing the ver­dict.

“Jus­tice wasn’t served to­day. Jus­tice crum­bled to­day,” he said.

Saskatchewan Pre­mier Scott Moe said it is “now more im­por­tant than ever” that Saskatchewan res­i­dents show pa­tience, con­sid­er­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing for one an­other.

Saska­toon Mayor Char­lie Clark, stand­ing along­side mem­bers of Boushie’s fam­ily and nearly a dozen First Na­tions chiefs and lead­ers on Satur­day, said the high­pro­file trial and its af­ter­math rep­re­sent “a defin­ing mo­ment for our city, our prov­ince, our coun­try, where we de­cide what kind of coun­try we’re go­ing to be.

“We have to face and talk about rec­on­cil­i­a­tion not just in the good times, but also in those mo­ments when it’s chal­leng­ing,” he said.

Thou­sands of peo­ple at­tended ral­lies across the coun­try, in­clud­ing one in front of Saska­toon’s Court of Queen’s Bench that spanned nearly an en­tire city block. Sup­port­ers flashed signs call­ing for jus­tice, change and unity against racism and ha­tred.

Jade Tootoosis, voice trem­bling and tears form­ing as she spoke at the Saska­toon rally, said her cousin did not de­serve to die the way he did.

“Indige­nous peo­ple, our lives are mean­ing­ful,” she said. “We are hu­man be­ings. We are ir­re­place­able. Ev­ery hu­man be­ing is ir­re­place­able.”

On Aug. 9, 2016, Boushie and four oth­ers, af­ter drink­ing al­co­hol much of the day, were in an SUV that was driven onto Stan­ley’s farm. An oc­cu­pant of the SUV at­tempted to start a quad on Stan­ley’s prop­erty and the grey SUV col­lided with a parked ve­hi­cle on Stan­ley’s prop­erty, court heard. Dur­ing the in­ci­dent, Boushie — sit­ting in the driver’s seat — was killed by a sin­gle gun­shot to the head from a hand­gun held at the time by Ger­ald Stan­ley. A bul­let en­tered be­low Boushie’s left ear and ex­ited on the right­hand side.

Stan­ley tes­ti­fied in court that af­ter fir­ing two warn­ing shots, he re­al­ized he couldn’t see his wife and was filled with a feel­ing of “pure ter­ror” that she might be un­der the SUV. He said he ran to­ward it, reached into the driver’s win­dow to turn the ve­hi­cle off and the gun — which he be­lieved was empty — “just went off.”

Trudeau, speak­ing in Los An­ge­les on Satur­day, de­clined to com­ment “on the process that led us to this point to­day, but I am go­ing to say we have come to this point as a coun­try far too many times,” he said.

“Indige­nous peo­ple across this coun­try are an­gry, they’re heart­bro­ken, and I know Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous Cana­di­ans alike know that we have to do bet­ter.”

JA­SON FRAN­SON/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A marcher cries dur­ing a rally in Ed­mon­ton on Satur­day in re­sponse to Ger­ald Stan­ley’s ac­quit­tal on Fri­day.

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