'A long moment of stunned silence': Rosanna Deerchild on telling a crowd Gerald Stanley was found not guilty

Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild was MCing a concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa when the verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial was announced. In that moment, she decided to drop her script and share the news with the audience.
On Feb. 9. 2018, from the stage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Rosanna Deerchild announced the verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial. Then she asked the crowd at the Native North America Gathering concert to observe a moment of silence for Colten Boushie and his family. (Scott Doubt)
Listen2:42

I was standing on the side of the stage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa watching trailblazing music maker Willy Mitchell sing. 

He sang, Big Policeman, a song about how, at 15 years old, he was shot in the head by a police officer over a string of Christmas lights. I stood backstage listening, feeling grateful he was here to sing this song. 
Willy Mitchell performing at the Native North America Gathering concert at Ottawa's National Arts Centre on Feb. 9, 2018. (Scott Doubt)

Then my cell went off and I glanced down at it.

It was a good friend telling me about another young man.

As I read I shook with anger and heartbreak. Hot tears rolled down my face as I went on social media and read pain-filled status after status.

'I couldn't let this pass'

As a professional I am trained to put emotion aside because "the show must go on." But I couldn't let this pass.
Not after Willy's song. Not while I stood in the nation's capital. Not in front of this audience of relatives and settlers.

I walked on the stage with tears in my eyes, my hands shook, my voice cracked, and I told the audience about that young man, Colten Boushie. 

How this young man did not survive what Willy had survived. That he was killed with a bullet to the back of his head and that the shooter — Gerald Stanley, a Saskatchewan farmer — had been found not guilty by a jury of his peers.

There was a stunned silence that went on for a long time. 

Then an anguished shout of "No" from one woman. Then "No justice." 

I asked the audience for a moment of silence for Colten, his family, for all of us.

And for that moment everyone in that room knew what being Indigenous in Canada means.​