Colten Boushie top-of-mind at annual Thunder Bay walk for missing, murdered Indigenous women
The farmer accused of murdering the 22-year-old Indigenous man was acquitted last week by a Saskatchewan jury
The tenth annual Valentine's Day memorial walk for missing and murdered Indigenous women was held in Thunder Bay, Ont., Wednesday — but this year, Indigenous men were on people's minds too.
The deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation carried a sign reading "Justice for Colten," a reference to last week's Saskatchewan jury decision to acquit the man who shot and killed Colton Bouchie.
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Anna Betty Achneepineskum said the verdict is an example of the injustices Indigenous people face in the Canadian court system.
"He's a 22-year-old young man that was just starting out in life. And you know, I have a 22-year-old son, and I remember thinking of my children. And it's very sad that we have to keep telling our children, 'You have to be careful.'"
"It goes with what we're doing here, you know? There's men also that are missing and that are murdered, and my brother was one of them," Sharon Johnson told CBC.
"When I'm involved with this work, I do it with him in mind too," she said.
Johnson's brother went missing in 1996, four years after her sister, Sandra, who inspired the walk, was found dead on the frozen Neebing-McIntyre Floodway in Thunder Bay, she said.
I had already gone through the loss of my youngest sister-Memorial walk organizer Sharon Johnson
Her family searched for him for four days before finding his body.
"I had already gone through the loss of my youngest sister," Johnson said.
"Because that was hard enough to go through that, I didn't want to let that stop me from continuing to do the work that I was doing, and I always honoured my brother's memory through my artwork because he was an artist," she said.
This year's walk drew close to 100 people, who made their way up May Street before attending a ceremony and feast on the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grounds.