Around 150 Fredericton residents gathered outside City Hall to attend a vigil for justice for Colten Boushie following the non-guilty verdict on Feb. 9 of Gerald Stanley. Stanley had been accused, and recently acquitted of the second-degree murder of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous Saskatchewan man.
The vigil on Feb. 12 condemned systemic discrimination in the justice system.
Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, wasn’t shocked at the trial’s outcome, but he said that’s the whole problem.
“We’re so used to getting the injustices. My response should have been frustration, but truly I wasn’t surprised.”
The incident happened more than two years ago when Boushie and four friends from Red Pheasant Cree Nation drove their SUV, crippled by a flat tire, onto the yard of a local Saskatchewan farmer.
Upon seeing them Stanley called the cops. By the time they arrived, Boushie was dead. He had been shot in the back of the head beside his SUV. Stanley was immediately taken into custody, but he was found not guilty. The jury concluded it had been an accidental shot.
Canadian citizens across the country took to the streets following the announcement. Many felt Stanley should have been found guilty. In addition, the peremptory challenge, the right of the court to reject jurors without a given reason, was used during the Stanley trial to reject multiple Indigenous jury candidates. Some claim this challenge allowed for bias and discrimination in the court.
Even though the death took place halfway across the country, people in Fredericton gathered to mourn Boushie.
Tremblay said with an improved education system, he believes Canada can start to repair Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations.
“The colonial system feeds the colonial structure that feeds the colonial mind.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had released a statement and met with Boushie’s family, but those at the vigil wanted more.
St. Thomas University student Alex Goddard said talk is not enough.
“He can talk all he wants about the fact that there is a problem, but people want to see change, not another apology and speech on how things need to change.”
Green Party nominee for Fredericton North, Chris Smissaert, still has faith in a political solution.
Smissaert believes once the people show they want a change, politicians can follow with the necessary policies.
“If we don’t make the changes, we’re just part of the problem.”
Tremblay sees the potential and hope that came out of the vigil. Incidents like these can at least bring those together who want change.
“We do have people who care, and we have the allies who want change and they see the injustices that have been occurring since 1604.”
With files from Garrett Moore and Jeffrey Mclean
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