‘Justice for Colten’ rallies underway across the country

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Jonathan Forani, Staff
Published Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 10, 2018 3:29PM EST

“Justice for Colten” rallies are planned in cities from Saskatoon to St. John’s after the not guilty verdict in the shooting death of Colten Boushie sent shockwaves across the country.

Facebook event pages for rallies and vigils on Feb. 10, Feb. 11 and later in the week quickly spread across social media in the wake of the decision, many labeled “Justice For Colten: Days of Action.”

Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted of second-degree murder Friday by a 12-person jury in connection to the shooting death of 22-year-old Boushie in 2016.

“In honor of the late Colten (Coco) Boushie, we are calling for a day of action to show solidarity and support for the Boushie and Baptiste family,” reads the page, organized by groups Indigenous Joint Action Coalition and Idle No More. More than a dozen gatherings were advertised on the page at time of writing in cities from Saskatoon and Edmonton to Halifax and Palm Beach County, Florida. One user on the event page said they were “lighting a candle for Colten in Baltimore!”

A rally held at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Saturday saw dozens gathering in solidarity for Boushie’s family while Indigenous leaders spoke about injustices against the community. At least one person held a poster reading “Justice for Tina Fontaine” too, an Indigenous girl whose body was found in 2014. Attendees prayed, sang and drummed, holding signs reading “racist jury” and “racist verdict.”

Some spoke about growing weary of what they called injustice against Indigenous people. “Something that’s so overtly racist — something that’s so overtly murder-with-impunity — should be an outrage to everyone, but somehow it’s not,” artist Shandra Spears Bombay told CP24’s Arda Zakarian.

More rallies were underway across Canada Saturday, including gatherings in Ottawa, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria, Penticton, and a number of First Nations communities, including the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba and the Nipissing First Nation. Events are planned for Sunday and Monday in Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Calgary.

At a rally in Ottawa, 8-year-old Mariposa Horsley stood with her family holding a sign reading “Everybody matters.”

“I have a best friend who is Inuit. Her mother is actually a throat singer,” she told the Canadian Press. “I thought it would be nice to come because I don’t think we should be against people just because of the colour of their skin. It’s not fair.”

“Bring drums and signs,” advised an event page for a gathering at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan on Saturday. One user on the page pleaded for attendees to “document the hurt” on social media: “Take pictures of signs, posters, placards, slogans, and speakers. Take pictures of the crowd. Post them with comments. Make the event last long after today,” he wrote. Some offered rides to those in need, encouraged people to arrive early to make posters, and others said they would bring extra winter clothing for people gathering.

On Twitter, the hashtag “JusticeForColtenBoushie” was trending in Canada, including a tweet from Charlie Angus, MP for Ontario’s Timmins-James Bay district. “Canada needs to wake up and understand what just happened in that Saskatchewan court room,” he wrote, questioning how “the system can be so stacked against justice for Indigenous people.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould also tweeted about the verdict Friday.

Saskatchewan MP Georgina Jolibois joined the chorus of politicians and Indigenous leaders speaking out against the verdict. “As Indigenous people, we give each other support when we’re hurting. And that’s why I’m here,” she told CP in Ottawa. Jolibois said she and other Indigenous leaders would like to see an inquiry into what happened called.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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‘Justice for Colten’ rallies underway across the country

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