Parliament Hill vigil held for Colten Boushie after not-guilty verdict

Dozens of people gathered on the steps of Parliament Hill to hold a vigil and vent their frustrations one day after a Saskatchewan jury found farmer Gerald Stanley not guilty of 22-year-old killing Colten Boushie.

Stanley, 56, had been charged with second-degree murder after Boushie, a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was shot and killed on his property in August 2016.

'I'm horrified'

"An all-white jury decided that [Stanley] shouldn't be punished for this," said Patricia McGuire, an Indigenous professor at Carleton University who attended Saturday's vigil.

"I'm horrified by this."

Boushie and four other young people from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation drove onto Stanley's rural property in an SUV on Aug. 9, 2016.

After an altercation with Stanley, his son and wife, Boushie was shot in the head.

Stanley testified during the trial that he never meant to shoot anyone, and that the handgun he was holding accidentally went off.

Expert witnesses testified the pistol was functioning normally and the handgun could only be fired by pulling the trigger.

CBC News has not been able to independently determine whether any of the jurors have Indigenous backgrounds.

Many who gathered on Parliament Hill felt the not-guilty verdict was an injustice. Some carried signs that read "Justice for Colten" and "Repeal Colonial Laws.

People also passed around a megaphone, allowing those who gathered to air their feelings and frustrations.

Part of a larger issue

"I think if you talk to any indigenous person in this crowd, you'll find [they've experienced] a death similar to this," said McGuire.

"I worry for the future of my children," she added.

Most agreed that Friday's verdict was a poignant example of the systemic racism that Indigenous people face.

"I'm here because the laws of this country have failed indigenous people, and Colten Boushie's life needs to be honoured," said Zoe Todd, an Ottawa Métis woman who attended the vigil.

Sonya Howard, another attendee, echoed those sentiments. 

"What I'm personally feeling [is] a real sense of shame, disappointment, anger, frustration — years upon years of frustration," she said.

Saturday's vigil on Parliament Hill was one of a number of gatherings and protests held across the county — including one that drew about 1,000 people to the steps of the Saskatoon courthouse.

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Parliament Hill vigil held for Colten Boushie after not-guilty verdict