We now have a new criminal defense in Canada. It is called the “Oops, I didn’t mean to do it” defense as least as it applies to indigenous peoples. You can say that and get away with killing a young indigenous man that has the promise of a wonderful future in front of him.
How did this defence evolve? It came from the Gerald Stanley trial in Saskatchewan, where he was charged with second-degree murder for the killing of Colten Boushie. There is no doubt that he shot and killed Colten Boulshie but a jury of his peers said he was not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. That this was a case of “oops” he didn’t mean to do it. When Gerald Stanley went and got a gun, he meant it, he knew what he was doing. He loaded it. If he wanted to scare Colten and his friends, he would have just brought out an unloaded gun. Firing the gun three times was no accident, by the third time, the fatal bullet, he was fully aware of his actions. After he shot Colten and then told his son “I don’t know how that happened”, he knew he had to have pulled the trigger. He could have been in shock that he actually did it, but he knew he pulled the trigger. He would say anything on the stand to not have to go to jail and he did, and the jury believed him. They wanted to believe him because he was one of theirs and “they” can do no wrong. The Crown told the jury he lied, but they wouldn’t listen.
The defence used the oldest trick in the book, making the victim look so bad that that jury didn’t value his life. Color that with the people around him and what they did, not what the victim did. It was so very successful in this trial and so easy to do because the victim and his friends were indigenous and it was already in their belief system. They grew up with those prejudices. This tact was so successful that every day people reminded the media and others that Colten Boushie and his friends were not on trial. Gerald Stanley was the one on trial because he killed Colten.
Gerald Stanley’s name will go down in the history of Canada as a killer who walked away from killing an indigenous youth. Sure, he had a trial and was found not guilty but in many minds they know that was the wrong decision that came out of justice system that has many systemic inadequacies and racism towards indigenous people.
Colten Boushie’s name will go down in history as the young man whose loss of life found no justice in a unjust system. He was a young man that suffered from the racism that is ever present in Canada. He will never be forgotten.
For the members of the jury, maybe they feel justified in what they decided and can sleep at night but I hope they listen to what is being said. I hope they can feel safe in their homes when they have let a man walk free for killing a young man and now have opened the floodgates for others to do the same.
For neighbours of Gerald Stanley, do they feel safe? Or do they worry he may use his gun on someone else? Or do they feel empowered that they can use their guns on trespassers?
When you go to bed at night do you feel like your kids are safe? Do you feel like they would be free from someone shooting them with this new “oops” criminal defense in Canada. Or do you feel there was injustice and that you need to act and voice your concerns so that the justice system will be changed so that it is truly about justice.
I have two children, and I know I worry for their safety in light of the Stanley trial.
The issue of missing and murdered indigenous women has just suffered a huge blow as well. If an indigenous woman or girl needs help, will they now worry they might get shot if they go onto a property to seek help. The implications of this case go on and on…
This lack of a guilty conviction is not a symptom of the disease of racism in this country, it is the explosion of all the years of racism that has been allowed to fester and grow and that non-indigenous peoples have gotten away with for far too long. And we are all feeling the impact of this tragedy and if you aren’t, you should be. Please look closer and educate yourself.
The world has been off kilter since the trial began when an entirely non-indigenous jury was filled with privileged white people. It was a sign of what was to come although the police searching Colten’s Boushie’s trailer right after his death when they went to inform his mother of his death was a huge red flag. Add on top of that the police did not look after the evidence of the truck, allowing the elements to do away with valuable evidence and not preserving the car for the Crown to do its professional testing of it.
Yesterday, with the verdict of Gerald Stanley being found not guilty, the world came off its axis. Will we be able to find balance once again? Will the Minister of Justice immediately move to take up recommendations on the choosing of juries? The government can act quickly when it wants though it will be too late for Colten. Will the laws that worked against a guilty verdict be looked at and changed so it is not so easy to get away with killing a young indigenous person? Because it something isn’t seen to be done quickly and swiftly, there may be consequences that no one change or recover from.
Indigenous peoples across this country felt a great blow yesterday, (Friday, Feb. 9). The Boushie family, friends and community suffered an even greater blow and were shocked, stunned, in disbelief and so many other emotions that I am sure we cannot fully comprehend. We all feel deeply for this family. We have cried with them, screamed our frustrations with them, felt anger with them and sent prayers and strength to them. We continue to send our love and support, and will do everything in our power so that no one else gets to use the senseless “Oops” defence on any other indigenous people, or takes an indigenous life so senselessly and gets away with it. Gerald Stanley killed Colten Boushie and the world will never forget that.
Note: Today, Saturday, February 10th, people are rallying all across Canada to show their disgust, anger, and cry out at the injustice of this trial. Colten's life is crying out for change in this country and many are working on making this world a safer and better place.