Debbie Baptiste, mother of Colten Boushie, holds a photo of her son during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 14, 2018. A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man who was killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan will open this year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto. Organizers say Tasha Hubbard’s “nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up” will make its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, which runs April 25 to May 5. A news release says the documentary “looks at inequity and racism in the Canadian legal system” after the case of Colten Boushie. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

‘Tore my world apart:’ Indigenous Bar Association to honour Colten Boushie

Gerald Stanley’s acquittal on Feb. 9, 2018 in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie prompted rallies and outrage across the country

Andre Bear remembers pain building deep inside him as he digested news of a controversial acquittal of a Saskatchewan farmer who shot and killed a young Indigenous man.

“It really tore my world apart,” Bear says from his home in Saskatoon.

“It made me feel hopeless that I would never see justice in my lifetime as a young Indigenous man in this country.”

It sparked a change inside him, he says, and he decided to become a lawyer.

Gerald Stanley’s acquittal on Feb. 9, 2018 in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie prompted rallies and outrage across the country.

Bear, 25, is Cree and a member of the Canoe Lake First Nation. He was working towards an education degree at the University of Saskatchewan as the trial was going on.

He’s now a law student at the university and the student representative on the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada’s board of directors.

He wants to spend his life challenging a system that he says needs to change if there is to be equal justice for everyone.

Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, attended a conference hosted by the association last year. She urged the Indigenous legal community to make the second anniversary of Stanley’s acquittal a day of action to highlight the treatment of Aboriginal people in the courts.

The association is calling on students, faculty and allies to dedicate this Sunday to Boushie.

The National Indigenous Law Students Association has organized a demonstration beginning with a vigil at the University of Ottawa. Participants will then walk to Parliament Hill and eventually to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Bear never met Boushie but he grew up with the young man’s family members in North Battleford, Sask.

READ MORE: Colten Boushie’s family meets federal ministers after acquittal in murder trial

Court heard how Boushie, who was a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation, and four other young people drove onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016. Boushie’s friends testified they were looking for help with a flat tire.

Stanley told court he thought they were trying to steal an all-terrain vehicle and he accidentally shot Boushie in the back of the head.

Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder. He later pleaded guilty to unsafe storage of an unrestricted firearm and was fined $3,000.

He has not talked publicly since the court case.

Boushie’s family called for changes following the verdict, including the end of peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject potential jurors without having to provide a reason. The challenges were criticized during the trial with suggestions that they excluded Indigenous people from the jury.

The federal government brought in legislation that bans the challenges. However, an Ontario judge struck down the ban last November and similar decisions are expected to follow. Uncertainty remains about the ban’s longevity if it is brought in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Boushie’s family wanted a public inquiry, but Saskatchewan’s justice minister rejected that. He said the trial showed what happened and an inquiry wouldn’t make a difference.

Boushie’s death and the trial inflamed racial tensions in Saskatchewan. At one point, then-premier Brad Wall asked people to stop posting racist and hate-filled comments online.

Bear says he believes the province’s response to the verdict, such as strengthening trespassing laws, did not do anything to repair the fractured relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

He has spoken with friends, students and colleagues and sat in on town-hall meetings in rural communities. He says Indigenous people still feel that there hasn’t been justice and many farmers do not understand the laws on defending property.

Boushie’s family also has said they would like to see more Aboriginal judges and Crown prosecutors. Bear suggests all lawyers should be educated on anti-racism and Canada’s colonial history.

“Lawyers and law students hold a responsibility in decolonizing the legal system and understanding how Indigenous legal principles may guide Canadian law.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CVRD requests rainstorm, flood photos via online tool

Officials want to know more about how that type of event impacted the region as a whole.

Bluegrass Festival in Cowichan offering savings for early birds

The annual Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival will run from June 19 to 21

Drivesmart column: Let’s block the road

Police resources to cope with the size of the protest group is an important consideration.

Coming up in Cowichan: Meet the Wounded Warriors

Wounded Warrior Run stops at Legion The Royal Canadian Legion Malahat District… Continue reading

Cowichan climber off to Olympic qualifier

Brennan Doyle competing for Pan Am Championship

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

First win, fifth win highlight BC Senior Curling finals

Donna Mychaluk wins first title after finishing second five times; Wes Craig takes fifth crown

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read