Memorial for Colten Boushie event held at Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp
Attendees voice concerns that nothing has changed in regards to Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations
On the two-year anniversary of Colten Boushie's death, people in Regina gathered at the Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp in the city's Wascana Park to honour him and advocate for change.
"When I heard about the memorial for Colten Boushie today, I just wanted to come and support the spirit of Colten and his family," said Roland Kaye.
"His name to me represents all the injustices, all the trauma, all the issues that we as Indian people face almost on the daily basis."
The potluck-style memorial was held Thursday evening with about hundred people in attendance at the justice camp.
Between 20 to 30 people are camping in the west side of Regina's Wascana Park in teepees facing the Legislative Assembly since Gerald Stanley was found not guilty in the death of Boushie. Supporters of the camp are demanding that the government make changes to the justice system.
The atmosphere was light. People could be heard laughing and visiting as children ran around and played. The sense of community was apparent as people welcomed old and new who came to the honorary meal.
Boushie, 22, was fatally shot on Stanley's Biggar-area farm in August 2016. Boushie was in an SUV that had pulled into the driveway of Stanley's farm, along with other young people from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. An altercation occurred between the strangers in the SUV and Stanley, his son and his wife.
A jury in February found Stanley, 56, not guilty in the death of Boushie after a two-week trial.
'It hits your heart as a parent. I can't imagine what they are going through and how they feel.-Mike Shepard, Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp
The tension-filled trial was watched by Indigenous people from all over Canada — many of them reflecting as parents themselves and sending their condolences to the Boushie family.
"It hits your heart as a parent. I can't imagine what they are going through and how they feel," said Mike Shepard, who attended the memorial.
It seems like we're fighting even harder for justices and we're getting less and less- Night Kinistino, mother of six
One notion that was echoed among attendees and speakers at the event was that although years have passed since Boushe's death, tension and issues surrounding the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people seemingly has not progressed in a positive way.
Civil lawsuit filed this week
The Regina memorial comes on the heels of a civil lawsuit filed to the Court of Queen's Bench by Debbie Baptiste, Boushie's mother, and family.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday claims Stanley negligently handled the gun that fired and killed Boushie, used excessive force in shooting Boushie "when he presented no risk" and failed to contact "any authorities on a timely basis" after Boushie was wounded.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Baptiste and two of Boushie's brothers are also taking the RCMP to civil court.
The family claims that on the night Boushie was shot, the RCMP searched Baptiste's home without reason and without a warrant, breaching the family's charter rights and freedoms.
Tension felt in Saskatchewan
Robyn Pitawanakwat has been with the camp since the beginning and she says she too understands that Indigenous people feel the tension in the province, and that Indigenous people have a reason to feel that way.
"It is such a clear indication when something like that happens that there can't be justice for any Indigenous family if they have the smoking gun and still it's not enough to prove guilt."
For Night Kinistino, a member of the Ochapowance First Nation, her reasoning is much like Pitawanakwat. The mother of six says events like this stand out to her as a parent.
"I remember when the verdict was reported in the news. I remember the sadness I just felt I had to be here," Kinistino said.
"It seems like we're fighting even harder for justices and we're getting less and less. It seems like we're not really going anywhere. I don't think it [the relationship] has changed at all. It seems like we aren't really getting anywhere. I am actually underwhelmed by the progress we have been making," said Kinistino.