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Bouchie case verdict sparks local reaction

Prince Edward County Councillor Lenny Epstein discusses his thoughts on indigenous rights. Photo by Michael Fleming.

By Michael Fleming [1]

BELLEVILLE – On Tuesday night, several Prince Edward County residents assembled outside Shire Hall [2] in Picton for a vigil in honour of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.

Boushie, a young Indigenous man from Saskatchewan, was killed by 56-year-old Gerald Stanley, a white farmer, on August 9, 2016 [3]. Stanley was acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury on February 9, sparking outrage from many Canadians and inspiring many demonstrations like the one in Picton.

Lenny Epstein, a Prince Edward County councillor, attended Tuesday’s vigil . He estimated that around 20 people were at the event.

“It was just a chance to reflect on Colten Boushie’s death and on the justice system and our relationship with Indigenous people in this county,” Epstein said about the vigil.

Epstein said he believes the role of non-indigenous people is to listen to the concerns of the First Nation communities and be open to change.

“I feel like my position in this whole situation is to listen openly and be supportive,” he said, adding that he hopes that vigils and demonstrations like the one in Picton convey that message.

Paul Latchford, manager of Indigenous Services at Loyalist College [4], said that he feels the conversation about the justice system is important, but there are bigger issues surrounding the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada.

“I’m not sure there’s just one issue, there’s probably more to it,” he said, adding that perhaps this case will raise awareness for the struggles faced by the native population.

 

Latchford also said he believes part of the solution is for the rest of the country to become more aware of the struggles faced by the indigenous communities.

“Part of the problem is that society, they don’t know about all this, so I think the awareness is key,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday [5] that the federal government will create a new legal framework to guarantee indigenous rights. The framework is an effort to eliminate court challenges against those rights. While the announcement comes shortly after the verdict in the Boushie case, the government says this was something they’ve been working on for a while.