News / Edmonton

'There should be outcry': Canadians express outrage after man acquitted in death of Colten Boushie

The acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colten Boushie is sending shockwaves of outrage throughout the country

A marcher cries during a rally in response to Gerald Stanley's acquittal in the shooting death of Colten Boushie in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.

JASON FRANSON / The Canadian Press

A marcher cries during a rally in response to Gerald Stanley's acquittal in the shooting death of Colten Boushie in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.

Eriel Deranger remembers growing up in Saskatchewan and her parents telling her to never approach a farmer’s private property — because she would likely be shot on sight due to her Indigenous ancestry.

Now decades later, the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colten Boushie on Friday shows that racism is still deeply entrenched in Canada’s justice system, the Edmonton activist says.

“I was really taken back that we had a high-profile case that went to a full public trial, and we still end up with a verdict that doesn’t even end with manslaughter,” said Deranger, who organized a rally in Edmonton on Saturday.

“When someone can murder someone via gross negligence and have no repercussions, there should be outcry from the public at large. And I really saw that at the Edmonton rally."

Boushie was shot in the head while he was sitting in an SUV that had been driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.

Stanley testified that he was trying to scare off Boushie and the others in the vehicle. He said the fatal shot occurred when he reached into the SUV to grab the keys out of the ignition and his gun “just went off.’’ He was acquitted of second-degree murder on Friday.

The acquittal continues to send shockwaves of outrage throughout the country, with several rallies and candlelight vigils planned in the coming days, including one on Friday in Edmonton.

Corenda Lee Steinhauer is organizing a candlelight vigil at the Alberta Legislature on Friday to show solidarity with the Boushie family. A woman of Cree and Blackfoot descent, the University of Alberta student said she wasn’t surprised at the verdict, but it shows there’s much work to be done.

“The verdict said that it’s okay to kill an Indigenous person and that our lives are worthless,” she said. “We’re still second-class citizens in a first-world country.”

She hopes Canadians of all stripes attend to oppose injustice and show solidary with the Boushie family.

“I want to say you’re welcome. We walk with love in our hands and in our hearts. We want this negativity to perish,” she said.

April Eve Wiberg started the Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Walk in Edmonton. While she’s glad the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has brought a greater spotlight to the issues Indigenous people face, she’s been pushing for a national inquiry for missing and murdered boys and girls, too.  

“The push for women and girls is opening people’s eyes that this affects all Indigenous people. They can also be in danger because of racism and the ugliness, dangers and harms it creates,” she said.

“I think the change is now is we’re no longer tolerating it.”

Deranger was encouraged by the turnout at the Saturday rally and believes there’s a shift happening among all Canadians.

“We’ve seen it at our walks and rallies … It was really quite powerful to see a lot of people come together and call for real justice,” she said.

“We really need to take a hard look at our system at how we can do better. Not just for Colten, but for all Canadians.”

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