Men and women, young and old, formed a tight circle outside the Yellowknife post office Saturday afternoon to shed tears, express anger and comfort each other in the wake of a not guilty verdict in the killing of Colten Boushie.
The 22-year-old was a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan. He was killed in August 2016 by Gerald Stanley, after an altercation on Stanley's property near Biggar, Sask.
A jury found Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in a Battleford, Sask., courtroom Friday evening, sparking rallies across the country.
- 'We feel like Colten died again': Boushie family, Indigenous leaders, say they've lost faith in justice system
- Hundreds gather for Boushie support rally in Saskatoon after Stanley not-guilty verdict
In Yellowknife, more than 50 people gathered in –25 C temperatures for an hour to listen to several community members, who gave tearful speeches about how the verdict made them feel. There is a second rally scheduled for noon Monday at the N.W.T. Legislature.
"My heart shattered into a million pieces last night," Nigit'sil Norbert said, tears running down her face.
The scent of tobacco filled the air as Gerri Sharpe made her way through the crowd, offering to smudge people.
Lena Koch was on her way to a shop to warm up Saturday afternoon, but when she saw what was happening, she said she "couldn't just walk by."
- Hundreds gather in Edmonton to support family of Colten Boushie
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"It's so sad for them," said the 20-year-old, her voice cracking with emotion.
"It's just so sad to see what it is like."
Koch is from Germany. She said she travelled to Canada to escape a rise in racism in her home country against Syrian refugees. She said she thought it would be better here, and was shocked to see Canada also struggles with racism and prejudice.
Tallis Kirby was at the rally with his 18-month-old son, Carver, perched on his shoulders. He said he showed up to lend support to the Boushie family and Indigenous people in general.
"I think these stories need to be told," he said.
"I don't think many people outside rural Canada or outside the North really know what's going on or really understand the whole story."
Jonathan Park, a defence lawyer who works in Rankin Inlet, broke down crying as he told the crowd the verdict makes him feel complicit in a broken justice system — even though, he said, he's trying to fix it from the inside.
As the crowd slowly dispersed, a number of participants in the rally gave him hugs and offered words of comfort.
A GoFundMe page named Justice for Colten Boushie had raised $70,000 for the Boushie family as of Sunday afternoon.