THUNDER BAY - The chief of the home territory of Barbara Kentner is expressing outrage over the Crown’s decision to file a new indictment on a charge of manslaughter against Brayden Bushby, who was originally to stand trial on a charge of second-degree murder for his alleged role in her death.
“We see this time and time again where violence against Indigenous people is not given the same level of care and attention in the Canadian justice system,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh of Grand Council Treaty #3 in a statement.
“It is difficult to believe there is not a racial component to this decision. For our people, it is easy to see that had the situation been reversed – had an Indigenous person struck and killed a non-Indigenous person – the accused would already be in jail facing a murder charge.”
Last week, Crown attorney, Andrew Sadler, said during a case conference that he would be filing a new indictment on the charge of manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Bushby was previously going to stand trial by jury on the charge of second-degree murder for his alleged role in the 2017 death of Kentner.
The incident took place on the night of Jan. 28, 2017 when it is alleged Bushby threw a metal trailer hitch from a moving vehicle that struck Kentner in the abdomen while she was walking in the Cameron Street area.
Kentner later died in hospital in July 2017 at the age of 34.
Initially Bushby faceda charge of aggravated assault, but the charge was later upgraded to second-degree murder and a judge at the preliminary hearing determined there was enough evidence to proceed to trial on that charge.
With the new indictment to be filed on the manslaughter charge, Bushby will now face a trial by judge alone.
Kentner was a member of the Grand Council Treaty #3 community of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway First Nation.
Kavanaugh said Kentner’s death came at a time when the city of Thunder Bay was under scrutiny for systemic racism, particularly in the Thunder Bay Police Service.
“Thunder Bay is a destination for many of our people here in Treaty #3 territory,” Kavanaugh said, “Whether living there or just visiting, we all know full well how notorious that city is for its widespread racism and hatred. For someone to be killed in such a manner, it demonstrates how problematic our peoples’ experiences can be there.”
Kavanaugh added Grand Council Treaty #3 and leadership in Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 will continue to advocate for justice reform, advocacy for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and actions against systemic racism.
The trial against Bushby will begin on Oct. 13 and is expected to take four days. Bushby was released on bail in November 2017.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.