Protests erupt following acquittal of white farmer charged in Indigenous death

OTTAWA – Protestors gathered across the country amid a chorus of outrage the day after a white farmer was acquitted in the shooting death of a young Indigenous man in Saskatchewan.

A jury in Battleford, Sask., found Gerald Stanley not guilty of second degree murder on Friday in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, a resident of the Red Pheasant First Nation.

Battleford was one of many communities that planned gatherings today to protest the ruling.

Other protests and vigils were planned in Halifax, Toronto and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The sound of people chanting a Cree honour song mixed with the noon bells of the Peace Tower on the Hill, and event organizer Lynne Courchene says that Stanley’s acquittal symbolizes systemic racism in the justice system.

Courchene says she wasn’t surprised by the decision, the makeup of the jury and the reported absence of anyone of Indigenous descent.

Eight-year-old Mariposa Horsley stood beside her mother and brother and held a sign that said, “Everybody matters.”

“I have a best friend who is Inuit. Her mother is actually a throat singer,” she said.

“I thought it would be nice to come because I don’t think we should be against people just because of the colour of their skin. It’s not fair.”

Saskatchewan MP Georgina Jolibois said she was shocked by the court decision, which she described as disturbing.

“As Indigenous people, we give each other support when we’re hurting. And that’s why I’m here,” said Jolibois, who is a former mayor of La Loche, Sask.

Jolibois said she and other Indigenous leaders would like to see an inquiry called.

The ruling prompted First Nations leaders and federal politicians to call for widespread change in the justice system.

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