'Flash mob round dance' in Saskatoon sends its love to Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie
About 75 people gathered at city hall Friday night in the wake of the Raymond Cormier not-guilty verdict
A small crowd of people joined hands in front of Saskatoon city hall Friday night and performed what was dubbed a "flash mob round dance" in support of the late Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie.
The gathering came a day after a Winnipeg jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty of murdering Fontaine and two weeks after a jury in Battleford, Sask., found Gerald Stanley not guilty of murdering Boushie.
Both victims were Indigenous. The verdicts have sparked calls for change in Saskatchewan's justice system and in Manitoba's child and family services system.
"Looking at the verdicts and the way that our Indigenous people are treated within the criminal justice system, this just showed the world what we deal with and what we face daily as Indigenous people," said David Pratt, second vice-chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), after ralliers danced in a circle to two songs.
Pratt told the crowd of about 75 people that FSIN met with Saskatchewan cabinet ministers in the past week and that "we told them it's in the long-term interest not only for First Nations people but for all the people to improve the lives of Indigenous people here within this region."
The Friday rally was organized by Chris Standing, who said he wanted to send love to Fontaine, Boushie and their families.
Pratt said events like Friday's are like "a form of therapy. It feels good."
Royal commission, inquiry called for
Earlier in the day, FSIN renewed its call for a royal commission to examine Indigenous people's experiences in the justice system.
Saskatoon resident and rally attendee Eileen Bear passed around a petition calling on Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice to launch an appeal of Stanley's not-guilty verdict. The Crown has until early March to do so.
The petition also calls for an end to peremptory challenges, the practice of lawyers challenging potential jurors without saying why they oppose the selection of that juror.
'I'm just heartbroken'
Naomi Muskego went to the rally with her children, including her 15-year-old daughter who held a sign saying "Justice for Tina and Colten."
"There has to be tremendous changes," said Muskego. "I think they need to do an appeal or an inquiry."
"We need justice for Indigenous people based on what happened with the Colten Boushie case and Tina Fontaine," she added. "I've been following them since day one and I'm just heartbroken with what happened to them."