Tuesday March 31, 2015
Cindy Gladue case sends a devastating message to Aboriginal women
* Warning — this story contains some graphic and disturbing details. *
It was a harrowing story to begin with. Now, some see it as an example of the injustice faced by Canada's indigenous women.
Thirty-six year-old Cindy Gladue, died in an Edmonton hotel room in June, 2011. She bled to death, her body was found in the bathtub. Charged in the case was a truck driver, from Ontario — Bradley Barton. Earlier this month Mr. Barton was found not guilty of first-degree murder, as well as of manslaughter. It's a decision that has given way to outrage among women's rights activists.
'These are our family members, these are women. These are your neighbours ... these are people in our communities. And we need to give them justice.' - Gabrielle Scrimshaw, president of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, arguing for a national inquiry.
Critics say the trial itself would have gone much differently if the victim hadn't been an aboriginal woman, and a sex worker, and if the jury hearing the case hadn't been entirely non-native. Also something unprecedented happened in the course of the trial.
A preserved part of the victim's own body was presented inside the courtroom as evidence: It was her pelvic area, including the eleven-centimeter long wound inside her vagina ... the wound which led her to bleed to death. The Crown argued the wound was caused by a sharp object, while the defence said it was caused accidentally by consensual, rough sex, which ultimately the jury believed.
Lynda Budreau-Smaganis is a Cree Metis elder and friend who supported the Gladue family during the trial. We reached her at her home, in St. Paul, Alberta.
Aboriginal women across the country say the fate of Cindy Gladue is just one more disturbing example of how they are being failed by institutions such as the justice system.
Katherine Hensel is a First Nations lawyer in Toronto. She is the founder and principal lawyer at Hensel Barristers in Toronto.
In order to reach the prosecutors in this case, we contacted Alberta's solicitor general's office. We were told that because an appeal is being considered, the Crown lawyers are not available for comment.
This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio and Samira Mohyeddin.
Protests planned for Cindy Gladue murder decision - Edmonton Sun
Verdict in death of indigenous sex worker sparks rallies, calls for appeal - The Globe & Mail
'This was demeaning': Body part as evidence in courtroom comes under fire - Edmonton Journal
Justice for Cindy Gladue demands an appeal of recent verdict - Edmonton Journal