Carrying signs reading "Murder is Murder," "Every Life Matters," and "Justice 4 Colten," several Colten Boushie family members and supporters staged a short but peaceful protest outside Provincial Court in North Battleford Monday to raise awareness of the court case.
"I would just like to say to the people, I just want justice for Colten," Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste said. "I just hope this works out well for all of us."
Monday's Preliminary Inquiry into the case of Gerald Stanley, 55, is expected to continue on to Friday. The Biggar-area farmer is facing a charge of second-degree murder related to the Aug. 9, 2016, incident in which Colten Boushie, 22, was shot and killed in Stanley's farm yard. The allegations have not been proven in court.
The Preliminary Inquiry has a publication ban so evidence heard at the hearing cannot be reported.
"This is to help ensure Mr. Stanley gets a fair trial, and that the evidence of a preliminary inquiry is not widely publicized," Colten Boushie’s family's legal counsel Chris Murphy said.
Murphy was surprised to see so much security for the preliminary hearing, saying "the families are here in a peaceful way to engage in the process.”
Gerald Stanley's lawyer Scott Spencer said he was pleased to hear Colten Boushie’s family made a statement saying they want the truth to come out.
"I was also pleased to see everything is very respectful this morning, hopefully that carries on all week," Spencer said. "That is a responsible way to deal with what is clearly a tragedy."
He added the events have been "extremely stressful and extremely difficult" for Mr. Stanley. "The tragedy is not lost on anybody. You hear the [Boushie] family in the courtroom suffering and that's tough on everybody. It's a terrible tragedy and you can't help but feel for them."
Colten Boushie's uncle Alvin Baptiste from Red Pheasant First Nation came to support the family. He said "his heart feels heavy inside" attending the Preliminary Inquiry.
"We are trying to seek healing, but it's like déjà vu. It’s starting all over again. I'm a little shaky inside ...but I try to stay strong for my family. I try to give the support and guidance to my family," he said.
Lester Nicotine, of Red Pheasant First Nation, attended court wearing a coat belonging to his grandfather, a former chief. Nicotine also wore the Red Pheasant medallion, and carried a symbolic feather he said “supports and guides” him.
He said, in his view, the Aug. 9, 2016, tragedy on Stanley's farm also highlights a larger more complicated and contentious issue - the question of property rights and land boundaries.
He said people should try to get along, live peacefully and share the land.
"We have Treaty 6, that is where we come from in Red Pheasant," he said. "We have hunted all over and trapped all over. There is Crown land and Reserve land the government gave us, but we have roamed all over ...along rivers and lakes."
"It's always been a touchy issue. We have to get along eventually," he added. "It seems like the government wants us to fight amongst each other."
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