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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

Chrystina Barnard, owner of Lucky’s Pet Supply, has made it her mission to visit as many patios in Penticton as a way to promote restaurants. Here she is enjoying an eggs benny with her best fur friend at Loki’s Garage in Penticton. (Facebook)
Penticton foodie commits to 19-day patio crawl to promote local restaurants

The small business owner wanted to help out eateries hurt by the new restrictions

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Penticton fire truck
Residents evacuated after apartment fire in Penticton

The fire started in an apartment on Government Street Saturday night

Lori Jantz snapped this picture of a fight between a bald eagle and an osprey above Osoyoos Lake on Friday. (Lori Jantz photo)
Battle in the sky erupts above South Okanagan lake

Bald eagle and osprey fight mid-air in Osoyoos

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Most Read