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

Commercial plaza proposed for Rocky Creek and Ludlow intersection

Town Council directed the application proceed for further consideration

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

South Wellington Elementary demolition not taking place next school year

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School trustees vote against razing south-end school in 2020/21

One piper piping during the pandemic

Tribute to health care workers reaches the 100th performance

Town of Ladysmith receives $3.3 million grant for Arts & Heritage Hub

The funds will go to creating artist studios around the Machine Shop and maintaining heritage assets

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Most Read