Hundreds of people gathered at the Alberta legislature Friday night to rally in support of Colten Boushie’s family after the man who shot and killed him was acquitted of second-degree murder last week.
With a handful of sheriffs monitoring the perimeter, the third Edmonton rally for Boushie is one of dozens that have been held across the country since the verdict was delivered Feb. 9.
Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death Boushie, 22.
The Cree man was shot in the head on Stanley’s property in August 2016. Stanley’s defence lawyer argued it was an accident, while the Crown maintained it was intentional.
Outrage over the verdict was immediate, especially among the Indigenous community, where anger is still simmering.
‘We feel your strength’
Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, was overwhelmed by the support at the Edmonton rally.
“Your presence alone means so much to me and my family, to see you standing here in the cold,” Tootoosis said. “We feel your strength.”
Boushie’s story is one Indigenous families know all too well, she said.
“This system continues to condone colonial violence upon Indigenous bodies and stolen land and [is] justifying it as if it’s OK,” she said.
“This is not OK. Our lives are priceless, they’re irreplaceable. And [that] this system will justify a life in comparison to a quad or any material property is shameful. Canada should be ashamed.”
The Boushie family is frustrated and tired, but they will continue to speak out, Tootoosis said.
“Colten Boushie is not just a son, he’s not just a brother, he’s not just a nephew or a grandson … Colten Boushie is every Indigenous person in this land,” she said, to applause.
Sylvia McAdam, a co-founder of the Idle No More movement, said she was pleased with the rally’s turnout.
“I’m really happy to see settlers coming out,” she said. “It’s an incredible time to be here and an exciting time where people are coming together and supporting and pushing back on racism and injustice.”
Rallies, such as Friday’s, help form a community, McAdam said.
“It creates a collective resistance that says, ‘No, this is unacceptable.’ And that’s important,” she said.
“Numbers put pressure on the colonial government to act,” she said. “It’s important that all of us feel a responsibility where there’s an injustice, we do everything within our means to support the actions like this.”
McAdam said she doesn’t feel safe being an Indigenous person after the Boushie trial, and worries about her own sons.
“I have two sons that are almost the same age as Colten, and it could be easily them,” she added.
Rally attendee Rob Aromin said the verdict is an injustice that he hopes gets corrected.
“We all got to stand together and recognize what is wrong,” he said. “And maybe we can get the verdict challenged and maybe get a retrial.
“If this injustice will happen to other people, then it can easily happen to me,” Aromin added.
Decca Isse attended the rally to support Boushie’s family and honour his memory.
“It was completely unjust what happened to him and I think more people need to talk about that,” she said. “More people need to understand that the system really has to change.”