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Saskatchewan premier says government should discuss Indigenous jury representation

15 February 2018

The case sparked heated debate in rural Saskatchewan between landowners who blame Indigenous people for high rates of property crime and First Nations who bear the brunt of that racism and hate.

The group made the call in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the trial looking into the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man from Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

In fact, he said, in the Boushie case the Indigenous pool of prospective jurors was likely so small that it was relatively easy to seat an all-white jury.

"We are exhausted of feeling second, we are exhausted of not mattering here", said Lela George, the organizer of a peaceful rally that showed solidarity for the young man's family and showed frustration with the justice system.

"Shouldn't we be asking ourselves that question today: 'Is racism alive and well in Canada?'" said Picard. "But I'm also sorry for the Stanley family".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the verdict, and offered condolences to Boushie's family.

Some said the justice system failed them and has repeatedly failed Indigenous people.

"As a country, we must and we can do better", he said, without going into any specifics.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said, "I am listening, our government is listening, and it is important that we continue to listen to the many voices involved in this discussion". "Certainly, in his memory and in preparation for these situations, should they ever happen again, something should be done to ensure justice is served".

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The Grand Council of the Crees is demanding the Canadian Criminal Code be amended to eliminate so-called peremptory challenges for jurors.

"If the roles were reversed, and if it was an Indigenous person behind that barrel pulling that trigger on a non-Indigenous person, I have no doubt in my mind that the results of that trial would've been different", said Quinn Meawasige.

Butt said a solution would be to limit or override peremptory challenges "if it becomes clear they have created an inappropriately homogeneous jury".

White added that Canadians as a whole, because of Friday's verdict, "are doubting whether this system, that clearly discounts the lives of Indigenous peoples, has anything at all to do with justice".

"This is what you get when you spend 150 years perpetuating genocide and continuing violent policies", Sinclair told Al Jazeera.

A bunch of friends who are students at UNBC were gathered together Friday when they heard the news of the verdict and made a decision to hold a rally in honour of the late Colten Boushie, said one of the organizers, Kasandra Johnny Turbide.

A similar fundraising page for Boushie's family, established five months ago, had raised $118,000.

Colton Boushie's life was taken from him on August 9, 2016 and at the same time Gerald Stanley's world was turned upside down.

"It's a very polarised country at the moment when it comes to indigenous issues".

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More than 60 people walked through downtown Kenora in freezing temperatures to protest the injustice of the verdict in the Gerald Stanley murder case.

I can't imagine the grief and sorrow the Boushie family is feeling tonight.

"We're still a long way from true reconciliation but when people come together to call for justice, when communities speak out for fairness and when governments listen, then there is still hope".

"We want meaningful change, systemic change". We must claim space in the legislature, in parliament.

In Ontario, we are headed toward the fifth anniversary of a report on the underrepresentation of Indigenous people on juries by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci. Colten Boushie didn't deserve to die.

Boushie was killed on Stanley's farm near Biggar, Sask., when a bullet from Stanley's handgun was shot through Boushie's head. The IBA is a not-for-profit federal corporation mandated, amongst other things, to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.

"This has to do with the story of Canada".

"I may grieve for some time". No we can't. We will try and we will push the pendulum too far in the other direction and we will celebrate until reality kicks in.

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Saskatchewan premier says government should discuss Indigenous jury representation