‘No justice, no peace’: Ottawa gathering in solidarity with Colten Boushie

Last night Gerald Stanley was found not-guilty in the shooting of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man from Red Pheasant First Nation, a Cree community in Saskatchewan.

Following the verdict more than 20 gatherings across the country were called to stand in solidarity with Boushie’s family.

All photos: Francis Tessier-Burns

About 100 people showed up to the Ottawa event held on Parliament Hill, brandishing posters calling for justice and criticizing the decision made by an all-white jury.

The gathering was called for noon; as it struck, the national anthem sounded from the Peace Tower. Loud bells rang for about 30 minutes, drowning out the voices of those gathered to mourn and share personal experiences — a telling sign for some.

Marissa Mills said “nobody should be turning a blind eye right now… it’s going to affect our children. This needs to definitely be a turning point in Canada’s history.” Mills then led a Cree honour song to open the gathering.

Charlotte, a young Dene woman, said the verdict speaks volumes of how Indigenous peoples are treated in Canada. “It shows that our life is less than yours. Our life is less than property. I’m a survivor of an attempted murder, my birth mother is a survivor of an attempted murder. Neither of us had justice. My attempted murderer is still walking around in Ottawa. And then when I hear about this, it makes me so enraged cause they’re killing kids… That isn’t right and that’s why it’s really important we gather together everywhere across Canada.” She added that she hoped to one day tell her kids, “It’s not like that no more.”

Delilah Saunders spoke of her experience with the justice system in her sister, Loretta’s, death in 2014. “I hate to make it about race, but it is about race. We have a heavily racist society… I hear stories about how my sister deserved to die. I hear stories about how Tina Fontaine deserved to die… These juries are not fair and that’s something that needs to change.”

Audrey Redmond is from Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan and residential school survivor who now lives in Ottawa. “I just cried,” she said when she heard of the verdict.

Francis Tessier-Burns

Written by

Freelance writer and photographer. Ottawa-based. These are my words that can’t find a home. Feeling generous?: paypal.me/FTessierBurns