This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Two Canadian Solitudes

"If you're a First Nations person, you live, you breathe this [racism]. As a First Nations mom, I live in fear. I would love for you to walk with me. I'd take a week off from work and I'd go incognito, maybe with a ponytail where nobody knows that I'm the chief."
"We'd walk around and go different places and you'd see clearly the fear -- not only physical but professional -- knowing that my [children]  are going to be viewed as less than ... as not worthy as their friends who are not First Nations."
Kim Jonathan, first vice-chief, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN)
Colten Boushie, 22, died on Aug. 9, 2016, after a shooting on a farmyard in the RM of Glenside.
Colten Boushie, 22, died on Aug. 9, 2016, after a shooting on a farmyard in the RM of Glenside. Facebook

"I see many posts from Aboriginals to fill the courtroom to show support for [Colten] Boushie. However, I haven't seen one request from local farmers, neighbours or family to show support for Mr. Stanley."
"As a farmer's wife, I believe what Gerald Stanley did was to protect his family, however, I think the courts will be pressured by Aboriginal presence to make an example of him. I think it should be posted somewhere, anywhere, that farmers support Gerald Stanley and the ability to defend our property from armed, drunk and violent trespassers, regardless of race."
Facebook member of Farmers with Firearms
Gerald Stanley Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix
"Here's a situation where you've got some folks that are different from each other; there's a lot of unknown between each other and a lot of mistrust going both ways."
"It's a hot-point button that could drive more of a wedge between our communities."
"But if there's a not guilty [verdict], I'm scared how bad it could get."
John Lagimodiere, editor, publisher, Eagle Feather News
"This must stop."
"These comments are not only unacceptable, intolerant and a betrayal of the very values of and character of Saskatchewan, they're dangerous."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall

"This case should make all Canadians feel uncomfortable. It should knock them out of their comfort zone."
"The night Colten died, the RCMP searched his mother's trailer while at the same time telling her that her son had been killed."
"I'm white. There is a zero-percent chance that, had I been shot, the police would have searched my parents' house while notifying them I was dead."
Chris Murphy, Boushie family lawyer
The initial RCMP press release intimated that robbery might have been involved when on August 9, 2016, a resident of the Red Pheasant First Nations, 22-year-old Colten Boushie, out for a day of swimming and drinking, with four friends, drove onto the property of farmer Gerald Stanley close to the town of Biggar. The farmer and the group of friends in the vehicle faced off confrontationally and while the others fled at the sight of the farmer's rifle, Boushie, still sitting in the vehicle, was fatally shot.

Ultimately, charges of theft were never laid against Boushie's friends who escaped injury. And why the friends made their way to the private property of the farmer, and the confrontation ensued remains uncertain, though it was suggested they had a flat tire and were looking for help. Which is passing strange in that most men know how to change tires, a common enough though nuisance occurrence on the highway. Mr. Stanley exited his farmhouse, rifle in hand, to confront what was purportedly a vehicle full of inebriated young men.

Farmers in the area, supporting Mr. Stanley's reaction claim that it is every farm owner's right to protect property from trespassers. If people are merely trespassing, it's odd that farm owners feel entitled to confront them, lethal weapon in hand, however. Many of those farmers, eager to make a point, posted photographs of the cabs of their trucks and tractors, rifles installed where they could be readily accessed. No racism was involved here, they claim, but rather a reaction to a crime problem.

"I think that Canadians should be thinking about how is it that Canada is at this place right now in terms of race relations. Where does it come from? How did it manifest to be like this? And how do we move forward", provocatively wrote Robert Innes, an Indigenous studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan. All worthwhile reminders that both 'sides' in this conflicting situation have much to consider, and much to lose. Those 'sides' are wider than Saskatchewan only; the personal search of conscience and introspective search for answers must be undertaken nation-wide. On both sides.

According to the RCMP the complaints filed by the Boushie family against the federal police force are without substance; that they had been treated with respect, rather than as the family claimed, made to feel like criminals. The officers involved were cleared of wrongdoing by an internal investigation into the situation. But as a sociology professor at the University of Saskatchewan pointed out, whatever motivated the shooting, there is a wider discussion relating to the kind of racism foisted on Indigenous people.

The controversy following Mr. Boushie's death, stated Julie Kaye, "reflected so many people's lived experiences", citing proven allegations that police on occasion engage in "starlight tours", where Aboriginal people found intoxicated on the streets are often driven to remote, isolated locations and simply dropped off, to somehow make their way back to town, in sometimes inclement weather conditions. "It's the work right now of the country to take these instances and really understand the broader context", Professor Kaye stated.
Alvin Baptiste stands by the grave of his nephew, Colten Boushie.
Alvin Baptiste stands by the grave of his nephew, Colten Boushie. (Richard Agecoutay)

Jury selection for the trial of Gerald Stanley in the death of Colten Boushie has been taking place this week in Battleford, Saskatchewan. Pitting the Aboriginal community against the white, rural farming community. The trial of the fatal shooting of an unarmed young Indigenous man where his shooter is charged with second-degree murder has divided the community anew. Eagle Father News suggested its readers guess the potential trial outcome.

Thirty-one percent felt that the farmer would be found guilty of a lesser charge Another 26 percent felt he would be found not guilty of any charges. The hope among those who prefer to avoid any further, future confrontations capable of provoking violence, is that leaders of both communities would find a way to improve relations. Should Mr. Stanley be released of responsibility for the death of young Mr. Boushie, however, all bets are off.

That jury selection resulted in not one Indigenous person out of the available hundreds of potential jurors being chosen, leaving the jury comprised of only non-Aboriginal white people, This turn of events  hasn't given the Indigenous community comfort in the sense that justice will be done, even if the trial itself will answer enough questions to ensure that justice has been done, if there is no conviction.

Boushie family lawyer Chris Murphy, left, and Jade Tootoosis, Boushie's cousin
Jade Tootoosis, the cousin of Colten Boushie, says she was disappointed to see Gerald Stanley's defence attorney challenge "every single visible Indigenous" person as a candidate for the jury in Stanley's trial. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

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