Friends and family rally outside the Penticton courthouse during early proceedings leading to the trial for the murder of Roxanne Louie. Western News file photo

Family speaks out on Robotti verdict

A jury found Grace Robotti guilty of the second degree murder of Roxanne Louie

It has been a long journey for the family of Roxanne Louie, but with last night’s guilty verdict in the trial of her murderer, they are hoping to start the healing process.

“It will take some time for us to adjust. We have lived with this tragedy for two-plus years now and we are looking forward to moving on,” said Dan Wilson, Roxanne’s uncle. “Now our focus is on making sure that Roxanne’s son is going to be well taken care of, brought up, be taught the difference between right and wrong and that he enjoys his childhood.

“That is what Roxanne would have wanted.”

More: Jury reaches verdict in Robotti case

The Okanagan Nation Alliance issued a press release praising how the Louie and Hall family have endured more than two years of arduous judicial processes and litigation in regards to the murder trial of Louie.

“In the face of these challenges they have found the strength and resiliency to persevere,” reads the release, extending the Chiefs Executive Council (CEC) deepest sympathy and support to the families who continue to go through the process of healing from such great loss.

“Justice here is found in both the verdict, as well as in the capacity of family and community to come together and support one another through the process of healing from such trauma.”

Wilson said the family is generally pleased with the verdict, but was hurt by how Roxanne and her mother Beverly, who died in a motor vehicle incident last year, “were painted in the worst possible light.”

“They’re not here to defend themselves,” said Wilson, adding that he sees that as a fault with the legal system. “We are glad to see that the jury was able to see through all that and come out with the verdict that they did.”

Grace Robotti was found guilty of second degree murder, at 9 p.m. Thursday (April 6) after a day of deliberations.

“It is time for healing now. Every time there was a court appearance it brought Roxanne’s death right back to the forefront,” said Wilson. “We miss Roxanne every day. She was a caring, loving person and a wonderful mother. That is how we would like her to be remembered.”

“Our hearts go out to our families and communities who have been so deeply affected by this tragedy, yet we recognize that a true sense of justice will never be served by a court. Though a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was launched by the federal government these gestures must be met with meaningful action,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Phillip said violence against women has been an issue for a long time, taking on a different dimension when it comes to indigenous women and how they are viewed in the larger society.

Related: Louie family, friends said similar stories across Canada

“The attitude of policing agencies has always been very dismissive. Police agencies are always suggesting the woman is out there partying and will turn up. In this case she showed up murdered,” said Phillip.

Phillip said they are hoping the national inquiry will continue to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women, in particular violence against indigenous women and girls, and will come forward with concrete suggestions that will “instruct the criminal justice branch and the police agencies to be far more diligent in their efforts to investigate these matters … not to simply set them aside.”

Phillip said the justice system needs to start sending stronger signals.

“There has to be severe consequences for all cases of violence against women, particularly against indigenous women and girls. Otherwise, these situations will continue,” said Phillip, noting that he has two daughters and six granddaughters.

“It’s got to be part of our social responsibilities. And, we have to be consistent in condemning those kind of actions.”

The ONA says the verdict is not a final step in the healing process.

“Though this verdict is a part of moving towards justice for Roxanne, it is important to highlight the systemic discrimination, racism and oppression that continues to be placed on indigenous peoples and communities through such legal cases as these,” said Wilson. “We want to thank the jury for the sacrifice and hard work in dealing with these difficult issues.”

The ONA hopes the many missing and murdered indigenous women are found, preferably safe, and that such cases as these may set a precedent to deter future perpetrators of such violent acts.

“We cannot look for justice here, we will have justice when we walk on our own path, our own road,” said Roxanne’s father Roger Hall, speaking to the indigenous experience in Canada.