Colten Boushie shooting death teaching Sask. the importance of tolerance: Premier Brad Wall

Premier Brad Wall is still hopeful that Saskatchewan can overcome heated racial tensions that have dominated online conversations since the shooting death of Colten Boushie.

Premier hopeful Saskatchewan can overcome heated racial tensions

"We have an obligation to Saskatchewan people to protect Saskatchewan's interests and to further them," said Premier Brad Wall, reacting to news of a potential merger between PotashCorp and Agrium. (Olivier Ferapie/CBC)

Premier Brad Wall is still hopeful that Saskatchewan can overcome heated racial tensions that have dominated online conversations since the shooting death of Colten Boushie.

The 22-year-old was killed on Aug. 9 on a rural property near Biggar, Sask.

Boushie, an Indigenous man, was a passenger in a car with four other people when he was shot. His family says the group was going to ask for help with a flat tire.

On Thursday, 54-year-old Gerald Stanley pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in Boushie's death.

Last weekend, Wall went online to call for an end to the hateful and sometimes racist comments that were being made about the case.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Wall said those ongoing conversations are teaching the province the importance of tolerance.

"This is a province full of wonderful people. We have the Saskatchewan values and the Saskatchewan character. It's built on tolerance, actually, if you consider our history. We're good neighbours and we need to remember that."

Wall said the situation is also a lesson that people need to think before the respond emotionally to something that's really emotional.

"What we risk is what's best of Saskatchewan."

'Racism is the air we breathe'

University of Regina education professors Michael Cappello and Shauneen Pete took part in a rally for Boushie in North Battleford on Thursday. 

"When the premier says this isn't part of Saskatchewan... that's a wish but that's not the truth. This is the fabric of our society. This is the history," Cappello said. 

He said unless people in Saskatchewan stand together and "begin to live differently towards a different future," nothing changes.

Pete of the Little Pine First Nation stood beside Cappello and nodded her head in agreement. 

"Racism is the air we breathe," she said. 

"It shapes every interaction that we have. To deny that? That's a form of white privilege."