Rally for Colten Boushie Calls for Changes to Canadian Justice System

Dozens of people rally outside Regina's Court of Queen's Bench in 2015 to protest an Edmonton jury's not guilty verdict in the death of Cindy Gladue 36-year-old Cree woman

Juries that represent local communities are a necessary feature of access to justice, as Boushie's family asserts. As women, we are asking, "Will I be next?"

She was asked about her tweet that the justice system must do better after farmer Gerald Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder.

After meeting Trudeau, Boushie's cousin Jade Tootoosis said: "Everyone we've talked to has been very engaged, respectful and took the time to hear our pain, hear our strength and hear us speak from the heart, including Prime Minister Trudeau, and for that we're very appreciative".

She says if there's a perception of a conflict of interest it needs to be addressed, and given an all-white jury made the decision regarding the death of an indigenous person, she feels that conflict certainly existed. "And that's exactly what we came here for".

In the confrontation that occurred after one youth jumped out of the SUV and tried to start an ATV parked in Stanley's yard, Stanley maintained the handgun he used to scare them off discharged accidentally.

At the time, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) blamed the RCMP for the vitriol and for presenting the shooting in a way that disproportionately cast Boushie as the aggressor.

Within minutes, or rather within mere moments, the internet proceeded to basically explode and caused a great divide.

Thousands of Canadians marched in rallies nationwide last weekend in opposition of a jury's verdict - decried as racist - last Friday night in a Saskatchewan courtroom.

Colten Boushie vigil at Windsor courthouse. Although angry with the verdict, no one seemed surprised by the decision of the courts.

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Even before the tragedy Saskatchewan farmers said they were facing increased thefts and threats and began arming themselves.

The details and evidence of the trial have been both contradictory and controversial. Social media and opinion pieces are rampant with views on what has happened.

I felt the disappointment from across the country, and within myself. But some contributors echoed Stanley, who argued in court that he feared his farming equipment would be stolen.

The challenges confronting our First Nations people are complex and long-standing.

Boushie was accompanied by some of his friends.

But in the justice system perception can be just as important as reality and in this case the perception of racial bias can't be ignored. I mean, who can even make such a conscious choice to do that in the heat of such a moment? "I think the perception that's been created here is just very bad in terms of the integrity of that trial and whether racism played a part". "We know to talk about it -otherwise people are too willing to forget".

I believe that, like the media, our elected government officials have no business commenting on a trial outcome that is decidedly top-heavy in their support of one side.

Are we now going to see this same principle extended beyond the sentencing of Indigenous criminals to the prosecution of non-Indigenous people accused of committing crimes against Indigenous Canadians?

Janice A. Makokis, an Indigenous relations policy adviser with the Yellowhead Tribal Council and the faculty of extension at the U of A, said the current legal system is created to "dispossess, to depress and keep us where we are", and the process of decolonization begins with rebuilding "our laws, legal orders and our structures".

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