Styres verdict no puzzle

Dear Mr. Whitlow, I Read your column but was puzzled by one thing, which you failed to mention. (This was a journalistic failure.) It was found as a fact that the accused Khill did not know at the time he fired his gun that the person trying to steal his car was an Indigenous person.

So how is there a race aspect in this case? Do you say that simply because it turned out that the car thief was Indigenous, that this should have made the jury find Khill guilty? I would appreciate your Indigenous perspective on this so reconciliation could be better achieved. Peter Best Dear Mr. Best, Although I am not Mr. Whitlow, I felt that I would be able to offer a response that might help you to understand the racial implications of this case.

I find that you addressing him as a car thief as a part of it; mind you, he was a father and a loved one. He had a family and a life that was precious to those that knew him. He also holds a name and it is Jon Styres. So I believe that whether or not Khill knew that Styres was Indigenous carries a deep irrelevancy to your inquiry.

It is the verdict of courts in finding a man that shot another man that carries the real racial implication; they found Khill guilty of manslaughter rather than second degree murder after shooting Styres with a shotgun, in the dark, twice.

With all of the other cases involving Indigenous people, you cannot expect there to not be racial implications; the court systems are the hardest on our people and the statistics prove this. More than a quarter of all inmates are First Nations, Metis or Inuit, so you cannot tell me it isn’t about race.

Ivan Zinger, Canada’s correctional investigator, has already addressed this. “Indigenous people are released much later in their sentences than non-Aboriginal, most of them at statutory release, which means two-thirds of their sentence,” he said. “They are in higher security typically. They’re more likely to be in segregation. And then when they do go out, they’re more likely to be suspended or revoked.” So, no, Khill should not have been found guilty because Styres held Indigenous ancestry.

But what is so very frustrating and heartbreaking is that his sentencing might have been different if Styres wasn’t.

Miss Martin

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