Sask. politicians call for end to racism following Colten Boushie's death
Brad Wall, Trent Wotherspoon speak out following Aug. 9 shooting
Political leaders in Saskatchewan are speaking out against racist comments that have emerged on social media following the fatal shooting of a young Indigenous man on a rural property.
Both Premier Brad Wall and NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon have spoken out following the Aug. 9 shooting.
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Mounties say a vehicle with five people went onto a farmyard near Biggar, Sask., at around 5:30 p.m. CST. The property owner didn't know the people inside the vehicle, police said. A verbal exchange broke out, and shots were fired.
A man inside the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. He was later identified as 22-year-old Colten Boushie. Gerald Stanley, 54 — who is associated with the property — has been charged with second-degree murder.
Following the events, hateful conversations emerged online about the people in the vehicle, with some comments making accusations about why the group was at the farmyard. RCMP took three of the people in the vehicle into custody following the shooting as part of an unrelated theft investigation.
Boushie's family has said the group was there to ask for help with a flat tire.
"He was a very respectful and helpful individual and all of a sudden to take this person away from us is devastating," Boushie's uncle Alvin Baptiste Sr. told CBC News.
On Friday, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations accused the RCMP of fuelling racial tensions due to the language used in the police service's communication about the events.
"The news release the RCMP issued the following day provided just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified," wrote FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a media release.
Part of the RCMP release referred to by the FSIN read, "three occupants from the vehicle, including two females (one being a youth) and one adult male were taken into custody as part of a related theft investigation. Another male youth is being sought; his identity is still being confirmed at this time."
The RCMP responded to the FSIN Friday evening saying it would be reaching out to the federation about their concerns.
'Racist, derogatory comments'
The Assembly of First Nations also issued a release Friday which offered condolences to Boushie's family, but also called out racist comments being made online since the shooting.
"To see racist, derogatory comments about this young man and about First Nations people online and on social media in response to this tragedy is profoundly disturbing," National Chief Perry Bellegarde wrote.
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Wotherspoon took to Twitter Saturday to call the online comments "sickening".
"We must deal with racism in Saskatchewan," he wrote.
Wall wrote a post to Facebook Sunday saying "racism has no place in Saskatchewan".
"I call on Saskatchewan people to rise above intolerance, to be our best and to be the kind of neighbors and fellow citizens we are reputed to be."
"He was a very respectful and helpful individual and all of a sudden to take this person away from us is devastating," said Boushie's uncle Alvin Baptiste Sr.