In a show of solidarity with the Colten Boushie family, dozens of people gathered in Confederation Square in Peterborough to honour the 22-year-old Indigenous man who was shot and killed in Saskatchewan in the summer of 2016.
Farmer Gerald Stanley was found not guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of Boushie, who was shot in the back of the head at close range.
The verdict caused outrage and an outcry in the Indigenous community, while setting in motion a number of rallies across the country and here in Peterborough, where many questioned the jury’s decision and claim the justice system is flawed and systemically racist.
“The decision to acquit Gerald Stanley is a continuance of systemic racism,” said vigil co-organizer Thohahente Weaver. “It’s something we as Indigenous live with every day.”
Organizers called for the vigil in order to show solidarity with the family and let them know people are watching and standing with them.
“We wanted to show our support and solidarity for Colten’s family and everyone in Saskatchewan and to let them know that we are with them and sending our prayers to them,” said co-organizer and Peterborough resident Crystal Scrimshaw. “We wanted them to know that they are heard and that everything they’ve been saying since the court decision is something that we support.”
More than 60 people gathered across from city hall to pray together, where there were pleas for peaceful action and for people to raise concerns and make their voices heard.
There was also a feeling of disappointment in the Federal government.
“The government of Canada says a bunch of things about reconciliation but it’s just a smokescreen for ongoing assimilation and injustice, like what happened to Colten Boushie,” said Thohahente.
First Nation leaders are calling this a defining moment and pushing for the Federal government to make changes to the justice system. At this point, an appeal of the verdict has not been ruled out.
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