Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Colten Boushie, leaves during a lunch recess on the day of closing arguments in the trial of Gerald Stanley, the farmer accused of killing 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie, in Battleford, Sask. on Thursday, February 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

BC Aboriginals: ‘There are two systems of justice in this country’

In the wake of the Colten Boushie verdict in Saskatchewan, B.C. Indigenous group calls for change

The BC Aboriginal Justice Council (BCAJC) is calling for the creation of a new Indigenous-led committee to work towards fairness and anti-discrimination in the court system.

The group made the call in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the trial looking into the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

“The verdict makes clear that there are two systems of justice in this country – one system that sends a disproportionate number of Indigenous people to jail and another that sends people like Gerald Stanley home to his family and community under police escort and protection,” said Doug White, BCAJC co-chair (criminal justice). “This cannot continue. Today, Canadians across the country are doubting whether this system, that clearly discounts the lives of Indigenous peoples, has anything at all to do with justice. ”

The BCAJC says immediate action is needed and would like to see the creation of an Indigenous Justice Action Committee at the national level, led by Indigenous lawyers and judges, as well as other experts in the relationship of Indigenous peoples and the justice system.

The committee, said the BCAJC, would provide strategic advice to the Attorney General on how to ensure that Canada’s legal system, including trial courts, are reflective of a justice system based on respect for human rights and fairness, and the principles of anti-discrimination.

“Our hearts and prayers are with Colten Boushie’s family and community. We are resolute—we stand shoulder to shoulder with our relations across Canada and will work to ensure that this grave injustice is acknowledged,” said White. “We will bolster our efforts, both here in British Columbia and across the country, to drive real and fundamental change to Canada’s criminal justice system,”

The BCAJC said it was gravely concerned upon learning of the not guilty verdict in the high-profile trial of Gerald Stanley for the second-degree murder of Boushie, who was killed on Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Saskatchewan in the summer of 2016, when a bullet from Mr. Stanley’s handgun was shot through Mr. Boushie’s head and neck.

Mr. Stanley was found by a jury to be not guilty of second-degree murder or, in the alternative, manslaughter.

“The problems this trial exposed in terms of criminal justice procedures and fairness are significant and warrant further attention,” stated the BCAJC.

“We thank the Attorney General and Prime Minister of Canada for offering words of comfort to the family of Mr. Boushie and the community,” said White. “We thank them for offering a spirit of repair and their openness to listen to Indigenous peoples so that our confidence in the justice system can be restored through meaningful dialogue and improvement.”

White went on to say that there were plenty of questions raised in the trial, including the fact that Indigenous jurors were excluded from the jury selection process.

“The verdict in this trial needs to awaken the conscience of all Canadians,” he said. “The trial began with a jury selection process that reportedly excluded all potential Indigenous jurors by peremptory challenges. The reality of this verdict drags Canada’s justice system out from behind the window dressing of reconciliation rhetoric and exposes real problems that we must urgently address together. Indigenous people across this country – particularly young men like Mr. Boushie – are massively over-represented in Canadian jails.

The BC Aboriginal Justice Council says it has committed to working with the B.C. government to review and reform the justice system in B.C.. The council members applaud those who recognize the system must change immediately and implore the federal and provincial governments, and all British Columbians and Canadians, to rise together in this moment.

“We need to create a new criminal justice system that is fair, inclusive and just,” the group stated.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



kparnell@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saik’uz Chief, Jackie Thomas wonders how much her First Nation is understood

Education and cultural pride at the heart of change

Racism still the biggest challenge

Saik’uz look to a new era in Vanderhoof

Vanderhoof flood risk evokes memories

It’s a love/hate relationship

Concerns about flooding cause angst

Estimates of flooding probabilty vary, depending on who you talk to

The next step for sturgeon is extinction

Work of recovery centre the last chance for magnificent creatures

VIDEO: B.C. ‘escapologist’ stuns judges on Britain’s Got Talent

Matt Johnson says televised water stunt was closest he’s come to death

WATCH: Moms Stop The Harm respond to opioid crisis

Someone asked her if she does the work for her son. McBain said: “No, actually. I do it for your son.”

Been a long day? Here’s cute puppies in training

Group is training next batch of assistance dogs at Vancouver International Airport

B.C. skydiver lands safely after cutting away main chute

Greater Victoria emergency services called after witnesses saw spiralling chute

78 Mexican farmworkers displaced after fire tears through building on B.C. farm

Flames broke out Thursday morning in building that housed up to 80 workers at Abbotsford farm

Cartoonist captures public mood following Toronto, Humboldt tragedies

Cartoonist said he was trying to find a bit of positivity with an image that has garnered attention

Whitecaps host against Real Salt Lake looking to snap 3-game losing streak

Ending their losing streak is all the Whitecaps care about when they host Salt Lake in Vancouver

Montreal Habs goalie Carey Price stops by B.C. hometown for rodeo

Famous goaltender tries to blend in with the crowd at first BCRA-santioned event of the season

B.C. hires 20 more conservation officers

The province announces 12 new locations for conservation officer services this year

Most Read