It’s been twelve days since the not-guilty verdict was passed, and Colten Boushie continues to be at the forefront of our minds. In early August of 2016, the young man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan was out with several of his friends when his car broke down near Gerald Stanley’s house. Moments later, Colten was killed by Stanley. On February 9th 2017, an all-white jury found Gerald Stanley, a white man, not guilty of all charges.
The outcome of the trial is heartbreaking and devastating—particularly for Colten’s family and friends, as well as Indigenous communities across Canada. Non-Indigenous people, though not effected in the same way, should be equally enraged at this miscarriage of justice.
In this moment, conversations about reconciliation feel painfully hollow. Rather, the way forward requires tangible actions in support of Indigenous-led organizations, groups and individuals who have persistently highlighted systems-wide solutions to issues faced by their respective communities. What, then, do we say to those who stand in the way? How do we change the systems and power structures that continue to ignore brave and capable Indigenous individuals tirelessly working to change the status quo?
We have little to add to the commentaries that have emerged following the verdict, and simply wish to echo the thoughts of these Indigenous individuals and groups:
- Senator Murray Sinclair’s call for concrete changes to the criminal code relating to peremptory challenges that could prevent Indigenous peoples from serving on jury panels
- Idle No More’s open letter to university presidents from Indigenous faculty members and allies
- Emily Riddle and Lindsay Nixon: The killing of Colten Boushie and outcome of Gerald Stanley’s trial represent a bigger problem
- Rober Jago: An all-white jury runs from justice in the trial of Gerald Stanley
- Ryan McMahon: The Gerald Stanley verdict shows there’s no justice for Indigenous peoples
Based on what we’ve heard and seen, here are some of the actions we can take:
- Support Erica Violet Lee’s fundraising campaign to support Colten Boushie’s family
- Implement Idle No More’s recommendations (listed above) in ensuring institutions like universities and colleges are spaces that are safe Indigenous youth
- Support the call for reforms to the criminal code to better serve Indigenous communities
- Continue the conversation in our respective circles about the killing of Colten Boushie and the wider problem of anti-Indigenous racism in Canada
Finally, we will say and remember Colten Boushie’s name; we will remember his humanity, his life, his family and the justice that was denied him.
The Inspirit team