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Windsor Comes Together To Demand Justice For Indigenous Youth

15 February 2018

"We're wanting our children and our young people in our community to know there's support for native people here, because there's so much on Facebook, so much in the news, so much in the media right now, so much racism out there", he said.

The death of Red Pheasant Cree Nation member Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan and the February 9 acquittal of Gerald Stanley for shooting him in the back of the head and killing him should be used as springboards for reform of the criminal justice system and elimination of racism, those at a rally at the Thompson Regional Community Centre heard February 13.

Since the GoFundMe was posted on February 9, hours after a jury in Battleford Court of Queen's Bench found the middle-aged farmer not guilty in the death of Boushie, around 2,500 people have donated more than $171,000 to the Gerald Stanley Support Fund.

Much of the outrage over the Stanley verdict, like the Val-d'Or affair, comes down to the fact these are not isolated incidents. But within hours, their anger was transformed into a determination to seek political change. The prime minister did not elaborate on the government's plans.

Thousands of Canadians marched in rallies nationwide last weekend in opposition of a jury's verdict - decried as racist - last Friday night in a Saskatchewan courtroom. During jury selection, several Indigenous potential jurors were rejected in peremptory challenges from Mr. Stanley's defence team, and as a result many, including Mr. Boushie's family, are now advocating for an end to this practice. The chief said he was crushed when he heard the verdict.

"It was a very good meeting", Ms. Baptiste said. "As a human family we have to demand the governments to dismantle the systems of oppression".

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"For a century the legal system made it clear that it did not want or need Aboriginal jurors".

"It just didn't sit well with us", he said.

The RCMP told the family if they were not satisfied with the explanations given in the letter, they could take the matter up with the CRCC.

The message being conveyed in protests across the country is not simply about the particulars of this case.

Following the not guilty verdict handed to Gerald Stanley Feb. 9, Indigenous leaders and people from across the country called for change in the justice system.

It is a rare occasion when a trial sparks a national conversation about systemic problems with the justice system.

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"It's those welcoming arms, it's those open doors that's not only impacted us as a family, but shown that leadership is serious about the issue and the experiences that we have felt", Tootoosis said. It happened to Tina Fontaine and now to Colten Boushie. Stanley says he was just trying to scare them, and the gun went off by accident. NWAC President, Francyne Joe said, "As a mother I can't begin to comprehend how this family must feel".

The new Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework - to be unveiled later this year following consultations led by Carolyn Bennett, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould - will include new legislation. Indigenous adults, especially women, are also overrepresented as victims of crime.

"There were no minorities, nor Indigenous people on the jury and their system, obviously, is failing First Nations", Teegee says.

"We need to ensure that this conversation continues so our people are protected", said Sunchild. "All of these considerations need to come into play in terms of what we do".

Tootoosis also said the meetings were symbolic, noting they were not just exclusively for Colten, but for all those who have been discriminated against.

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Windsor Comes Together To Demand Justice For Indigenous Youth