Gerald Stanley verdict discussed during Cultural Diversity Month in Saskatoon

The Gerald Stanley trial exposed "a very dangerous current," according to the chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. Devin Sauer / Global News

The death of Colten Boushie and the trial of Gerald Stanley thrust race relations into a spotlight, according to the chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

David Arnot made the comments while addressing a crowd at Saskatoon city hall to mark the beginning of Cultural Diversity and Race Relations Month.

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“We’ve seen an exposure – an exposure of a very dangerous current underneath the province of Saskatchewan [and] a current that is very corrosive, very marked, very divisive,” Arnot said, adding the events led to “racial tension – the opposite of the harmony that we need.”

The ceremony included representatives from the City of Saskatoon, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and Reconciliation Saskatoon.

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Cultural diversity and race relations, along with reconciliation and social cohesion are “as important as ever,” Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark told the gathering.

Clark acknowledged racist online comments surfaced following the Stanley trial and the acquittal of Raymond Cormier in the death of Manitoba teen Tina Fontaine.

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“There are these forces that are creating this anxiety, this polarization – the racism that we see that is effecting social cohesion in our community,” Clark said.

Following the presentation, newcomers from the Saskatoon Open Door Society joined the mayor for a flag raising in the city’s civic square.

The city will hand out its Living in Harmony Recognition Awards at a ceremony on March 21.

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