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Family of Colten Boushie meets with PM and justice minister

14 February 2018

I happened to be at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon (it'll always be Sask Place to me...) attending a WWE wrestling event when my friend showed me her Facebook timeline, which said the decision would be revealed at approximately 7:30 pm.

Debbie Baptiste holding a picture of her son, Colten Boushie, at the trial of Gerald Stanley, the white farmer accused of killing Boushie, from Saskatchewan's Red Pheasant First Nation.

Who would have thought that a not guilty verdict in a second-degree murder trial could become a major barrier to reconciliation?

The verdict by an all-white jury sparked protests across the country.

In the wake of the verdict, Boushie's family were understandably outraged. But within hours, their anger was transformed into a determination to seek political change. On Monday, The Globe and Mail reported that the Boushie family will meet with senior members of the Liberal cabinet to share their experience and ideas on how to fix the courts.

Critics say the legal use of peremptory challenges, or a lawyer's objection to a proposed juror, helped Mr Stanley's defence keep indigenous people off the jury in the trial.

Trudeau insists he is not commenting specifically about the Stanley case, but he has met with Boushie's family and promised them reforms. "And this ain't going to stop until something changes for the better".

In the spring of 2016, when the sexual assault trial of former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi failed to produce the verdict the Trudeau government wanted, the government chose to change the law to make it even harder for men to defend themselves against rape allegations.

RCMP conduct has been under great scrutiny in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and there are big issues and problems regarding how the force treats Indigenous peoples. They allege the officers were callous in how they informed the family of Boushie's death and then immediately searched the home.

"She said Mr. Trudeau told her: "'Things need to change. While we mourn Colten, we also face oncoming waves of racism.

"You can't have even that kind of appearance in our justice system", he said.

You don't need me to go over the details of the incident, especially since every media outlet in the province - whether it's in print form, online or on TV - has covered every nook and cranny of the case to the point where I'm nearly begging to see something else hit the news and take over the headlines.

Since Stanley's acquittal in the tragic shooting death of a young Cree man named Colten Boushie, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can't stop talking and tweeting about how Indigenous Canadians deserve better from our justice system.

Boushie was killed in August 2016 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan from a gunshot to the back of the head. In many ways, they say, the force treated them more like suspects than victims.

But in the justice system perception can be just as important as reality and in this case the perception of racial bias can't be ignored. "We also talked about the RCMP, police and other areas that we can continue to have conversations around".

"I think defence counsel and Crowns, for that matter, have used these challenges to get a jury they want", she said - adding the government is "considering" eliminating peremptory challenges altogether. "And that's exactly what we came here for". Colten Boushie didn't deserve to die.

Family of Colten Boushie meets with PM and justice minister