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

Construction of LNG Canada plant still on hold

Construction will only begin following a positive final investment decision

VIDEO: Watch ex-Kitimat video director Stephano Barberis’ new reel, featuring his own new music

Breathe of My Leaves music project debuts ‘Chimera’ album of electronic sounds

Sulphur dioxide pollution over Kitimat could be eliminated after 2024

New process will eliminate SO2 as a byproduct

Kitimat, Terrace home sales up from 2017

Optimism surrounding a potentially positive LNG decision one of the factors

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Most Read