North Battleford, Sask., vigil calls on love to honour Colten Boushie

Family and supporters of Colten Boushie gathered together at a vigil Thursday night in North Battleford.

22-year-old man shot and killed last month on farm near Biggar

Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste, with her hands clasped behind her back, stands among those gathered for a vigil for the 22-year-old man in North Battleford. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Family and supporters of Colten Boushie came together at a vigil Thursday in North Battleford, Sask.

Colten Boushie was killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask. last month. (Facebook)

Boushie, 22, was shot and died last month on a farm near Biggar. Gerald Stanley, 54, is free on bail after pleading not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in Boushie's death.

The shooting sent shock waves across the country, with many people making allegations that racism had a part to play in the shooting.

At the vigil, speakers said while things like racist attitudes can reflect on a society, it doesn't have to affect society in the long term.

"We are all here as family," Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief Kimberly Jonathan said to those gathered at the vigil.

Jonathan pointed to Boushie's family, saying that throughout everything they have tried to send a message that leaves her feeling hopeful and optimistic.

"The family has led by example from day one and said that they call on love and respect. They call on love to honour Colten."

Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste was among those present at a vigil in North Battleford, Sask., for the 22-year-old man. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Boushie's cousin, Jade Tootoosis, spoke to the group on behalf of the family. Tootoosis said the family had been helping each other stay strong since Boushie's death.

"And we realized that what's happened to my brother Colten not only affects us, but it affects many people across Turtle Island and around the globe. And that's why we're here today."

People in North Battleford participated in a smudge, a traditional purification ceremony, before the vigil got underway. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Later, Tootoosis told CBC News the vigil has left her feeling stronger.

"It was just [being] surrounded by love and comfort and a lot of good feelings," she said. "I know a few times I cried. They weren't necessarily tears of sadness, although it made me miss my brother Colten. After this evening, I feel I'll have a good sleep tonght."

Also attending the vigil was Rachelle Ternier, a youth advisor with the National Farmers Union.

"This family has exhibited such strength and beauty in their call for peace and support," she said.

Colten Boushie, 22, died last month following a shooting on a rural property. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

The death of Boushie was followed by some angry comments exchanged on social media that sometimes pitted residents of rural Saskatchewan and the First Nations community against each other.

Ternier said she doesn't know exactly what happened on the day Boushie died, but the fact remains a loving family is left to grieve his loss.

"As a rural person, I found it really important to be here to show that there's a lot of support in rural areas," Ternier said.