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:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

2.5 years in Penticton courthouse over neighbour assault ends

Man pleaded guilty, withdrew, stood trial, pleaded guilty to assault described by Crown as ‘vicious’

Country star takes a dip for charity

Brett Kissel went for a dip in Okanagan Lake while in Penticton to raise money for Her International

Pursuit of Excellence defeats OHA in female prep hockey final

Okanagan Hockey Academy lost to Pursuit of Excellence 6-3 at the CSSHL final in Penticton

Oliver holds onto Wine Capital of Canada designation

It might be hard to swallow for other communities but Oliver remains Wine Capital of Canada

Carmi students start their day with Olympic inspiration

Brent Hayden, 2012 swimming bronze medalist, waded through Penticton and Summerland schools

What’s happening

Find out what events are taking place this weekend in the Okanagan and Shuswap

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

Most Read