Colten Boushie supporters relieved accused killer to stand trial
- Chelsea Laskowski | April 07, 2017
The week Colten Boushie’s accused killer was committed to stand trial was an emotional roller coaster for the victim’s family.
Boushie, 22, was shot and killed last summer after a vehicle he was in drove onto Gerald Stanley’s farm in the R.M. of Glenside, and Stanley was soon after charged with second-degree murder.
Now, after a North Battleford Provincial preliminary hearing, Judge B. Bauer has ruled there is enough evidence for Stanley to go to trial. It welcome news to the victim’s brother, William Boushie.
“I couldn’t ask for a better outcome than what’s happened today, and in due time we will get our brother’s justice,” William said outside court on April 6, as a woman nearby let out an anguished cry.
“You took my grandson away! You took part of my heart away!” the woman yelled.
Earlier that week, the Red Pheasant Cree Nation victim’s mother Debbie Baptiste and more than a dozen family members spent three days sitting in court at the preliminary hearing, listening to witness testimony and viewing crime scene photos. At times, Baptiste and others were seen leaving the courtroom sobbing.
Although the facts in the case have yet to be proven in court, it has sparked racist comments online and caused controversy on the issue of defending property. Many have questioned whether Boushie’s death would have been treated the same by police and the courts if he wasn't Indigenous.
Those topics were front of mind for the Boushie family’s supporters, who made their strongest showing during the last day of the preliminary hearing. One of the signs held by upwards of 60 people read “native lives matter,” and a young girl held a sign saying “my uncle wasn’t a piece of replaceable farm equipment.”
Red Pheasant Chief Clint Wuttunee, whose daughter was in the vehicle with Boushie the night he died, was among the supporters. He was quick to say he doesn’t paint all rural people with the same brush.
“I grew up with a lot of the younger farmers in the area, I went to school with some of them, and I believe there’s some good people out there. But it’s surprising some of them the way they do think after this tragedy happened. I don’t like seeing comments where people are saying that ‘they should have shot the rest of them.’ That’s disturbing,” Wuttunee said.
Before Stanley entered court on the last day of his hearing, a group from Saulteaux First Nation delivered a drum song while tears fell down the faces of Baptiste and others.
Saulteaux band councillor Leo Moccasin Jr. provided some of the vocals.
“Our culture is a big value to us. That’s why we came with our drums and we brought some sweetgrass too,” he said.
While Boushie’s family is still grieving the loss of their loved one, they have also vowed to bring purpose to Boushie’s death by combatting racism and fighting for justice.
“With the supporters that come together to support us, it uplifts our spirit, it makes us feel more motivated to get out there and do something about it,” William said.
“I’m pretty sure my brother’s looking down and happy and satisfied to see his community is actually paying it forward to him, paying it forward as he did in the past with them.”
Tina Sunchild was “bus buddies” with Colten and his siblings growing up on Red Pheasant.
She said Colten’s death made her aware of subtle racism she’s encountered, like being followed around in stores because of the colour of her skin.
“It was just different things that have happened over the years that made me come to realize after Colten had passed away, that this can’t be happening anymore,” she said.
“We are not violent people. There are a lot of us out there that want peace, and love, and everything like that, and I think with Colten’s death, what that raises is that we need to unite together.”
It will be some time before Stanley’s trial date is set, but it’s currently expected it will take place at North Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench.