'The pain just doesn't stop': Colten Boushie's family struggles to cope with his death

Colten Boushie's mother would normally be thinking about how to celebrate her son's birthday. Now all Debbie Baptiste can think about is how she's going to make it through the day without her son.

Boushie's sister moves from Montana to Saskatchewan to be with grieving family

Colten Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste, says she wonders if she's going to cry every day for the rest of her life after the death of her son. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Colten Boushie's mother would normally be thinking about how to celebrate her son's birthday. 

Now all Debbie Baptiste can think about is how she's going to make it through the day without her son. 

"The pain just doesn't stop. It won't go away. It'll never go away," Baptiste said, as tears streamed down her face. 

Coco — the nickname people who knew Boushie would use — would have turned 23 years old on Halloween. The 22-year-old Indigenous man was shot and killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask., on Aug. 9. 

Gerald Stanley, 54, has pleaded not guilty to a count of second-degree murder in Boushie's death. A preliminary hearing for Stanley has been set to begin on Jan. 16, 2017.

"We always made a big deal out of his birthday," said Baptiste. "Everybody had to dress up."

Colten Boushie was killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask. on Aug. 9. (Facebook)

Baptiste said every day since Boushie was killed has been a nightmare for the family. 

Sitting in her brother Alvin Baptiste's living room in North Battleford, Sask., Baptiste stared at the ground. She was lost in her thoughts and reliving the pain of finding out her son won't be coming home. 

Baptiste has been trying to be strong for her family through it all. Her two sons, William and Jace, are struggling to move forward without their brother.

Jace has been attending healing ceremonies, trying to cope with the loss. Baptiste said she worries William has turned to alcohol to numb the pain.

Satin Denny says she needed to move home from Montana to be with her mom, Debbie Baptiste, after the death of her brother Colten Boushie. (Devin Heroux)

Within the last month, Boushie's sister, Satin Denny, moved back home to be with her mom. Denny had been living in Montana.

In some respects, Denny said she had been escaping the reality of her brother's death.

I just shut myself out from it. I didn't want to deal with it.- Satin Denny

"I just shut myself out from it. I didn't want to deal with it, the fact that he was gone," Denny said.

"I couldn't handle it, having to imagine what was going on in my brother's mind before he was killed."

Denny said she needed to come home to be with her mom and brothers as they all continue to grieve. Some days it is almost impossible to want to wake up. 

In the midst of their pain, their family is closer than ever.

"You never think that something like this is going to happen to your family, that someone that fast could be taken away from you. And your whole life just changes. Nothing is the same anymore."

Reliving the trauma the night Boushie was killed

Baptiste sobs between sentences as she tries to find words to explain what unfolded the night RCMP officers told her Boushie was shot and killed. 

"I looked up in the sky and saw that red helicopter go in that direction and I already knew something was wrong," she said.

They were watching a movie. Baptiste said she saw a caravan of vehicles coming down the road toward her house. Before long, they had pulled up to the front of her home. 

Baptiste walked outside.

"All these cops came out and I was thinking, what did we do? And that's when they told me about my son. And I screamed and screamed and they told me, 'ma'am you have to go back into your house,'" she recalled.

They held me in the living room and had my other son against the wall.- Debbie Baptiste

Baptiste was stunned and in disbelief. She thought they had the wrong home.

"I said, 'No. You guys. It's not him. It's somebody else,'" she said. 

"They took me into my house and they all just charged in and went through the whole house."

Baptiste went inside and collapsed on the floor. She said an RCMP officer grabbed her and was smelling her breath as she was talking to him.

"Then he told me, you have to get it together."

Baptiste said she told the officers that she was waiting for his son to come home and that she had put his dinner in the microwave. She said they didn't believe her and immediately went to the microwave to see if she was telling the truth.

"They held me in the living room and had my other son against the wall. They had us all stretched about in the house," said Baptiste. "All I could hear was, Colten's dead. Coco's gone. He's dead."

Colten Boushie's mother describes treatment from RCMP

7 years ago
Duration 1:15
Colten Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste, describes the interaction with RCMP when officers came to her home to tell her of her son's death.

Baptiste said she felt like the victim, all while learning it was her son who was the victim. 

"I got scared and kept saying, 'what did we do? What did we do? What did we do wrong?'"

RCMP responded to Baptiste's allegations in an emailed response to CBC News. 

"These reports are concerning to us. As this matter is now before the courts we will not be able to provide further comment at this time. Full details will be released through court proceedings," the statement said. 

Colten Boushie's family have been relentless in their call for justice after he was shot and killed on a Saskatchewan farm near Biggar.

Baptiste is now looking for a new home for her family to live in. She said she relives the trauma of that night every time she wakes up in the same house. 

"My two grandsons keep looking out the window.  The little one says, 'Coco should be coming home.' They think he's still alive. He's four years old and can't comprehend."

Cards of condolences across Canada comfort family

Since Boushie's death, cards of condolences have flooded in for the family from across the country. 

Baptiste said more than anything, it let the family know they're not alone. She's thankful for all the support.

"Half of the thank you cards I got were actually farmers," she said. "I thank those people for having a heart. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. That there are people out there who care."

Baptiste's brother, Alvin, has also been there for support. He has been relentless in his call for justice.

"We don't want this to repeat itself again. We don't want this anymore. We don't want our kids to be killed," he said.

The hardest part of Boushie's death for Baptiste is that her son is never going realize the dreams he had.

"He wanted to save up for a car. He had a lot of plans. He was going to sign up for university."