Colten Boushie's family welcomes RCMP to feast 1 year after man's death

Colten Boushie's family is hosting a feast to mark one year since his death, and they're inviting everyone — including RCMP.

'We're all one family. We all cry the same way. Our blood is all the same colour,' says Boushie's uncle

Colten Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste, and her brother, Alvin, say everyone — including RCMP — is welcome at a memorial feast next Wednesday. (Jason Warick)

Colten Boushie's family is hosting a feast to mark one year since his death, and they're inviting everyone — including RCMP.

​The RCMP has come under fire for its handling of the case since the Red Pheasant Cree Nation man was fatally shot in a Battlefords, Sask.-area farm yard Aug. 9, 2016.

Boushie's uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said a sergeant from the North Battleford RCMP detachment called and asked if they could attend the feast next Wednesday.

"They're more than welcome," he said over coffee in his North Battleford yard with Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste. "We're all one family. We all cry the same way. Our blood is all the same colour."

Debbie Baptiste said she's grateful for all the support that's poured in from across Canada. She said the RCMP and the entire justice system need to change, but anyone who is sincere about supporting them in their grief is welcome to attend the feast.

"I miss Colten so much," she said, wiping tears from her face. "We don't have Christmas. We don't have birthdays. It's all been taken away."

A memorial for Colten Boushie is taking place next Wednesday on the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. Boushie was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2016. (Facebook)

Many people felt the initial RCMP news release blamed the victim and his friends for Boushie's death. Others criticized the apparently callous notification Boushie's mother received of his death, and the handling of a vehicle and other key evidence.

The Boushie family has started a petition questioning the independence of the lead RCMP investigator and the Crown prosecutor, and criticizing the justice system's treatment of Indigenous people. The petition was endorsed last week by 2,000 delegates at the Assembly of First Nations meetings in Regina.

The officer invited to the feast was not available for comment, but RCMP issued a written statement saying they value the relationships with all partner agencies and communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

"The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Colten Boushie last August reinforced the need for all of us to work together to build stronger, safer communities."

The Assembly of First Nations voted last week to support a petition calling for a new prosecutor in the Boushie case. A Battlefords-area farmer has been committed to stand trial for murder. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Alvin hopes the feast will lift the spirits of his sister and other family members, but closure is proving difficult during the long court process. Farmer Gerald Stanley's murder trial is set to begin in January.

He expects a large showing from Red Pheasant members, but hopes RCMP and others from the region can attend. There is no charge, but participants are free to bring food or tobacco.

"It's up to each person to bring what their heart tells them, even a bag of apples," Alvin said.

The feast will feature moose, deer, rabbit and duck soups "just like our grandmothers and grandfathers had," Alvin said. Tea, bannock, berries and other traditional food will also be served, as well as modern fare such as bananas, pop and chips.

The food will be smudged and prayed over. Everyone will eat following the pipe ceremony.

At the end, anyone is free to share a story about Boushie or other words, Alvin said.

The feast will begin in the afternoon of Aug. 9 at the Red Pheasant hall, approximately 150 kilometres west of Saskatoon.