THUNDER BAY – Daniel Cox is standing up for Colten Boushie.
The first-year student at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law on Wednesday took part in a march through Thunder Bay’s north-side downtown core.
“We’re hoping to basically start a conversation. We want people to be talking about these things, having the uncomfortable conversations, talking with people who they work with, people they share their lives with,” Cox said.
This issue is not going to go away, he added.
The 22-year-old Boushie was shot and killed in August 2016 after he and some friends trespassed on property owned by Saskatchewan farmer Grant Stanley.
Stanley was acquitted last week by a jury that appeared to be all-white in its makeup, drawing criticism from Boushie’s family, Indigenous people across Canada and many of the country’s politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Calls have also come from the legal community for an overhaul of the jury selection process to be more inclusive and representative of everyone involved in a case.
“I don’t think Canadians have access to a true jury of their peers, so long as Indigenous people are not on those juries,” Cox said.
“I think the justice system is missing out on a valuable perspective, as well.”
Sydney Maracle, a member of the Mohawk Nation who grew up in the Belleville, Ont. area, said a huge injustice was done against Indigenous people and she wants to see it righted.
“There should be an appeal and it should never should have happened,” she said. “And I really feel and reach out with condolences to the community and his family with what has happened to (Colten).”
Maracle said awareness of the issue needs to come to light, both in Thunder Bay and across Canada, to ensure the necessary changes are made.
“This is a fight that we need to continue to do and this is a huge injustice that has been done,” she said, calling for an inquiry into more inclusive jury selection processes.
Fellow first-year student Elizabeth Green, who is non-Indigenous, said she marched to show solidarity to the Boushie family and other Indigenous students at the law school.
“I just think that this trial shines some light on the inherent problems in the Canadian judicial system, specifically with Indigenous cases,” Green said.
“Statistically speaking it’s quite obvious that the Indigenous people are over-represented in the prison system, but yet they’re under-represented in all other areas of the judicial system, namely juries. I feel there should have been some Indigenous representation in the jury selection and on the jury.”
Cox said students at the law school have drafted a statement calling for jury reform for the student body to sign, which in turn will be sent to both the prime minister’s and justice minister’s office.