Debbie Baptiste, mother of Colten Boushie, holds a photo of her son during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 14, 2018. A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man who was killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan will open this year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto. Organizers say Tasha Hubbard’s “nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up” will make its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, which runs April 25 to May 5. A news release says the documentary “looks at inequity and racism in the Canadian legal system” after the case of Colten Boushie. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

‘Tore my world apart:’ Indigenous Bar Association to honour Colten Boushie

Gerald Stanley’s acquittal on Feb. 9, 2018 in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie prompted rallies and outrage across the country

Andre Bear remembers pain building deep inside him as he digested news of a controversial acquittal of a Saskatchewan farmer who shot and killed a young Indigenous man.

“It really tore my world apart,” Bear says from his home in Saskatoon.

“It made me feel hopeless that I would never see justice in my lifetime as a young Indigenous man in this country.”

It sparked a change inside him, he says, and he decided to become a lawyer.

Gerald Stanley’s acquittal on Feb. 9, 2018 in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie prompted rallies and outrage across the country.

Bear, 25, is Cree and a member of the Canoe Lake First Nation. He was working towards an education degree at the University of Saskatchewan as the trial was going on.

He’s now a law student at the university and the student representative on the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada’s board of directors.

He wants to spend his life challenging a system that he says needs to change if there is to be equal justice for everyone.

Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, attended a conference hosted by the association last year. She urged the Indigenous legal community to make the second anniversary of Stanley’s acquittal a day of action to highlight the treatment of Aboriginal people in the courts.

The association is calling on students, faculty and allies to dedicate this Sunday to Boushie.

The National Indigenous Law Students Association has organized a demonstration beginning with a vigil at the University of Ottawa. Participants will then walk to Parliament Hill and eventually to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Bear never met Boushie but he grew up with the young man’s family members in North Battleford, Sask.

READ MORE: Colten Boushie’s family meets federal ministers after acquittal in murder trial

Court heard how Boushie, who was a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation, and four other young people drove onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016. Boushie’s friends testified they were looking for help with a flat tire.

Stanley told court he thought they were trying to steal an all-terrain vehicle and he accidentally shot Boushie in the back of the head.

Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder. He later pleaded guilty to unsafe storage of an unrestricted firearm and was fined $3,000.

He has not talked publicly since the court case.

Boushie’s family called for changes following the verdict, including the end of peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject potential jurors without having to provide a reason. The challenges were criticized during the trial with suggestions that they excluded Indigenous people from the jury.

The federal government brought in legislation that bans the challenges. However, an Ontario judge struck down the ban last November and similar decisions are expected to follow. Uncertainty remains about the ban’s longevity if it is brought in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Boushie’s family wanted a public inquiry, but Saskatchewan’s justice minister rejected that. He said the trial showed what happened and an inquiry wouldn’t make a difference.

Boushie’s death and the trial inflamed racial tensions in Saskatchewan. At one point, then-premier Brad Wall asked people to stop posting racist and hate-filled comments online.

Bear says he believes the province’s response to the verdict, such as strengthening trespassing laws, did not do anything to repair the fractured relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

He has spoken with friends, students and colleagues and sat in on town-hall meetings in rural communities. He says Indigenous people still feel that there hasn’t been justice and many farmers do not understand the laws on defending property.

Boushie’s family also has said they would like to see more Aboriginal judges and Crown prosecutors. Bear suggests all lawyers should be educated on anti-racism and Canada’s colonial history.

“Lawyers and law students hold a responsibility in decolonizing the legal system and understanding how Indigenous legal principles may guide Canadian law.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenous

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

Just Posted

South Surrey boy, 11, hopes to raise $3,000 for Sources – and be Prime Minister

White Rock Coldest Night of the Year event to take place Feb. 22

Recharged Sharks aim for playoffs after ‘well-earned’ break

Bayside rugby club mixes youth with returning veterans in quest for men’s Div. 1 title

Pedestrian fatality in Surrey

Police are investigating at 183 Street and Highway 10

Police watchdog seeking witnesses to Surrey arrest

It happened in a McDonald’s parking lot in Guildford on Jan. 18, at 152nd Street and 102A Avenue, at about 1 a.m.

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants make it nine straight

Roman scores hat trick as team dominates Seattle

Homicide team investigating after body found in Abbotsford

Resident finds deceased person on Keeping Road on Sumas Mountain

Most Read