Fredericton members of Indigenous communities and their allies came together to honour 22-year old Colten Boushie, and to highlight the need for change across the country.
A vigil was held outside Fredericton city hall on Monday night as a show of solidarity for the Boushie family and to highlight systemic problems.
Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, Traditional Wolastoq Grand Council, spoke at the vigil and said the gathering was to rally in support of Boushie’s family and “the injustice that occurred in a Canadian court system.”
“There was only a white jury with a white judge,” Tremblay said at Monday’s vigil.
He said the jury’s verdict highlights the need for change in the Canadian Justice System.
“Trudeau talked about when he first got in that the importance of a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people, plus a justice reform, and the reform has not taken place,” Tremblay said.
“What needs to take place is that our people, the Indigenous people across Canada need to be at the table when discussion and decisions have to be made dealing with the justice reform — that we have to have our say and our views put forward.”
Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre (MWC) assistant professor Dr. Margaret Kress attended the vigil at city hall.
Kress said it was a “somber” gathering and a movement showing solidarity, as well as a chance to pay tribute to the Boushie family.
WATCH: Family of Colten Boushie praises ‘productive’ meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
She also said it was a chance to address the issues of systemic racism and inequality present across the country.
“Well outside of this trial, there’s just, you know, a multitude of infractions against Indigenous people throughout our country, throughout the world and we really need to dismantle some of these systemic problems that we have that exist within Canada. It’s not just Saskatchewan,” Kress said.
She said many people don’t understand the “colonial fracture” around the settlement of Canada.
“There are all these other issues around white privilege, and unjust power structures that exist within our society that need to be dismantled,” Kress said.
“So the rights, the intrinsic and inherent rights of Indigenous people have to be elevated to the general population and that’s really what we do at the University of New Brunswick.”
WMC co-ordinator of Wabanaki Language Revival, Jennifer LeBlanc, said it was important to be part of the vigil to show solidarity for the Boushie family.
“There was a lot more people than I actually expected. I think I went feeling a little skeptical, thinking maybe people wouldn’t gather together, but I was really surprised and happy to see people come together,” LeBlanc said.
Kress said it’s important to understand that a process of reconciliation is underway and said women elders she works with are stressing the need for a return to a more matricultural society.
“One elder I spoke with today… she said that we need to return to the spiritual, and in order for families… to gain protection and get to a state of peacefulness, they need to actually engage in fasting and they need to learn about the eagle staff and what that means and how to actually make an eagle staff for their families,” Kress said.
LeBlanc agrees it’s about much more than a trial and opens the door to talk about many other issues.
She also said Indigenous identity and talking about youth and violence are also important.