Hundreds of Canadians held vigils and rallies this weekend following the acquittal of Gerald Stanley for the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie. Stanley shot and killed Boushie, who was Indigenous, following an altercation on his farm in August of 2016.
The jury announced the verdict on Friday evening in Battleford, Sask., and the hashtag #JusticForColten immediately gained momentum on Twitter. Many people were concerned systemic racism had a role in the decision, pointing out the jury didn’t include a single Indigenous person.
“In this day and age, when someone can get away with killing somebody, when someone can get away with saying, ‘I accidentally walked to the storage shed, I accidentally grabbed a gun out of the storage box and I accidentally walked back to the car and then I accidentally raised my arm in level with the late Colten Boushie’s head, then my finger accidentally pushed the trigger’ – what a bunch of garbage,” said Bobby Cameron, the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, at a press conference following the decision.
While many people eloquently expressed their anger, hurt and frustration on social media over the weekend, one of the most poignant statements came from Senator Murray Sinclair, a retired judge who chaired Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Today I grieve for my country,” wrote Sinclair on Saturday morning. “I grieve for a family that has seen only injustice from the moment a farmer with a handgun (why does a farmer need a handgun?) killed their son.”
He went on to say that he grieves for Boushie’s mother along with other Indigenous parents who have lost their children. “I grieve for the youth who now see no hope, and whose hunger for justice gives rise to anger,” he continued. “I grieve for the children whose lives now have one more jeopardy.”
Sinclair concluded his post with a statement the entire country needs to reflect on: “I may grieve for some time. But then again… we have been grieving a long time. This is why we can’t ‘just get over it and move on.’ My country won’t let me.”