Social media storm following death of Colten Boushie sparks fear in First Nations youth: FSIN
'There's so much racial tension and there's so much racism,' says FSIN youth representative
Racial tensions are continuing to flare over social media since the shooting death of an Indigenous man on a rural Saskatchewan property.
"One of my concerns is the fear taking place amongst the communities right now for the First Nations youth that are here," said Andre Bear, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations youth representative.
"A lot of us are being really scared to travel around. There's so much racial tension and there's so much racism."
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Colten Boushie, 22, was shot and killed earlier this month on a property near Biggar, which is nearly 100 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
A man associated with the property, Gerald Stanley, 54, is charged with second-degree murder. He was granted bail last Friday with a number of conditions.
'Dehumanized First Nations youth'
Bear said it's especially tough to see posts made online threatening the lives of First Nations youth.
"Those are kids that they're talking about … It's unbelievable how dehumanized First Nations youth are in this province," Bear added.
Last week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall made a plea on his Facebook page asking people to stop posting racist comments.
"These comments are not only unacceptable, intolerant and a betrayal of the very values and character of Saskatchewan, they are dangerous," Wall wrote in his post.
"There are laws that protect citizens from what this kind of hate may foment. They will be enforced."
Even some councillors in the province weighed in. Controversy arose after a screen-grab of a post, from a user named Ben Kautz, was widely circulated.
"His only mistake was leaving three witnesses," read the post on a Saskatchewan farmers group Facebook page. The group has since been closed.
Kautz, a farmer near the small town of Lampman, southeast of Regina, is also councillor with the rural municipality of Browning.
Comments 'completely unacceptable'
"The social media — some of the comments that have been made are completely unacceptable. We certainly take great exception to that," Jim Reiter, the minister responsible for First Nations in the province, said to reporters on Sunday.
He said the tragedy involving Boushie has become very inflamed.
"What everyone, I think, needs to do is to just let the RCMP and the justice system do their jobs," he said.
According to Bear, there is systemic racism in the province and change needs to happen not only on a provincial and federal level, but it needs to start on an individual scale.
"These farmers and these people — I believe they have to find it in themselves to fight that indoctrination of dehumanization of First Nations people. They have to find it within themselves to realize that we're human too, that we're equal."
With files from CBC's Devin Heroux and The Canadian Press