Racist threats expose 'something very rotten' in Sask., says Idle No More co-founder

The fallout from Friday night’s not guilty verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial is emboldening racism, say Indigenous people who say they have seen and felt the effects of threatening behaviour.

Hospital visit sees daughter overhear comment that 'Only good Indian is a dead Indian'

Indigenous people are demanding an end to colonial attitudes and policies, greater autonomy, and an end to racism, which have become part of political conversations. (Nadya Kwandibens/Red Works)

The fallout from Friday night's not guilty verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial is emboldening racism, say Indigenous people who say they have seen and felt the effects of threatening behaviour.

"There's something very rotten to the core about what's happening here in Saskatchewan," said Sylvia McAdam, who hails from Big River First Nation and who is one of the co-founders of the Idle No More movement.

A jury found Stanley not guilty in the murder of 22-year-old Colten Boushie. McAdam says that decision has allowed non-Indigenous people to "be bold, to be brave and to be brazen" in voicing racism and threats against Indigenous people.

"They're so confident in making statements now. They're not hiding anymore."

McAdam was attending the Saskatoon rally in support of Boushie's family on Saturday, when her daughter called her in tears. Her daughter had been in the maternity ward in Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital, when she overheard a person in the shared room loudly speaking about the Boushie case, saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

Rallies took place across the country in support of Colten Boushie's family. (CBC/Alicia Asquith)

"Coming from the rally with an incredible amount of support and then to step into that situation where I believed my daughter was threatened, my first reaction was of intense rage, to protect her," said McAdam. "That kind of crap has no place in these locations where people come to be taken care of."

One widely shared post on social media involved a man posting to warn that those attending the Saturday rally in Regina should know the 306 Truck Club would be on the scene "rolling coal" on people.

A Twitter user posted a message directed at people attending Regina's rally on Saturday. (Twitter)

The man later apologized and said he made the comment out of frustration, and that the comments were his own, and not reflective of the club.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said that racism was on display throughout the court case and now, in its aftermath.

"It's pretty disgusting," he said of the racist commentary he's seen online. Those comments have made Indigenous people feel unsafe, said Cameron. 

"We've received many comments and concerns via text and email that they don't feel safe with their children going to a non-First Nations school, driving down rural Saskatchewan or on a grid road."

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron says that the FSIN has had many people send messages that they feel unsafe, in light of racism that's been exposed during the Gerald Stanley trial and in its aftermath. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan RCMP has said it is looking into a number of online comments that had been brought to its attention since Friday, but could not release specifics of investigations. The RCMP asked those who come across suspected criminal behaviour online to report it to police, and for people to be respectful and peaceful while online. 

Cameron said he echoed the calls of family, police and Premier Scott Moe, asking people to remain peaceful, as legal options are pursued to appeal Stanley's not guilty verdict.

McAdam said racist and violent threats make her fear for her two young sons, who are close to the same age as Boushie.

"Is this an open season for young Indigenous people? Is this what this case has opened up? I hope not."

I don't want to deal with this through my grandchildren, 10, 20 years from now.- Sylvia McAdam

If nothing else, she hopes the case makes Saskatchewan hold a mirror to itself, where non-Indigenous people are groomed to fear First Nations people.

"We need to start having these difficult conversations and challenging conversations but it needs to happen, because I am so fed up," she said. "I don't want to deal with this through my grandchildren, 10, 20 years from now."