'Enough': Colten Boushie's mom speaks out at rally
Published Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:08PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 11, 2018 2:11PM EST
The mother of a young Indigenous man who was shot dead in 2016 vowed on Saturday to “fight back” after his shooter was acquitted.
"White people -- they run the court system,” said Debbie Baptiste at a rally in North Battleford, Sask., one day after farmer Gerald Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Batiste’s son, Colten Boushie.
“Enough,” she said. “We're going to fight back ... Enough killing our people.”
Stanley’s lawyers had argued that his gun went off accidentally, killing the 22-year-old man in a "freak accident."
Baptiste said she believes it wasn’t an accident.
"Go to hell, Gerald Stanley,” she said. “That's where you belong."
The rally in North Battleford was one of dozens of “Day of Action” protests that were organized across Canada after Friday’s verdict, by groups Indigenous Joint Action Coalition and Idle No More.
More than a dozen gatherings took place, from Vancouver to Edmonton to Halifax.
Bobby Cameron, Saskatchewan regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, told CTV News Channel on Saturday evening that the nationwide solidarity “meant a lot to us.”
“We feel betrayed. We feel let down,” he said of the verdict. “What if that was your child?”
He added, “What would you do, and what would you expect justice to do?”
Cameron said he wants to see justice reform, including around how juries are selected, so that Indigenous people can get “a fair and equitable trial.” Concerns have been raised about an apparent lack of diversity on the jury, which did not have any jurors from visible minorities, including the Indigenous community.
“Is that so much to ask?” he added. “For all those out there, we want to thank you and we continue to ask for peaceful demonstrations.”
A rally held at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Saturday saw dozens gather in solidarity for Boushie’s family, while Indigenous leaders spoke about injustices against the community. Attendees prayed, sang and drummed, holding signs reading “racist jury” and “racist verdict.”
One person held a poster reading “Justice for Tina Fontaine,” an Indigenous girl whose body was found in 2014.
Some attendees spoke about growing weary of what they called injustice against Indigenous people.
“Something that’s so overtly racist, something that’s so overtly murder-with-impunity, should be an outrage to everyone, but somehow it’s not,” artist Shandra Spears Bombay told CP24’s Arda Zakarian.
More rallies were underway across Canada Saturday, including gatherings in Ottawa, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria, Penticton, and a number of First Nations communities, including the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba and the Nipissing First Nation.
Events are planned for Sunday and Monday in Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Calgary.
At a rally in Ottawa, 8-year-old Mariposa Horsley stood with her family holding a sign reading "Everybody matters."
"I have a best friend who is Inuit. Her mother is actually a throat singer," she told the Canadian Press. "I thought it would be nice to come because I don't think we should be against people just because of the colour of their skin. It's not fair."
“Bring drums and signs,” advised an event page for a gathering at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan on Saturday.
One user on the page pleaded for attendees to “document the hurt” on social media.
“Take pictures of signs, posters, placards, slogans, and speakers. Take pictures of the crowd. Post them with comments. Make the event last long after today,” he wrote.
Some offered rides to those in need, encouraged people to arrive early to make posters, and others said they would bring extra winter clothing for people gathering.
On Twitter, the hashtag “#JusticeForColtenBoushie” was trending in Canada.
Trudeau: ‘We have to do better’
Speaking in California, Trudeau directly addressed Canada’s Indigenous community.
"I'm not going to comment on the process that led us to this point today, but I am going to say we have come to this point as a country far too many times," he said.
"Indigenous people across this country are angry, they're heartbroken, and I know Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians alike know that we have to do better."
Saskatchewan MP Georgina Jolibois joined the chorus of politicians and Indigenous leaders speaking out against the verdict.
"As Indigenous people, we give each other support when we're hurting. And that's why I'm here," she told CP in Ottawa.
Jolibois said she and other Indigenous leaders would like to see an inquiry into what happened called.
The Crown has not ruled out an appeal.
With files from The Canadian Press