Around 70 people gathered outside Saskatoon’s city hall Thursday evening to offer support for the family of Colten Boushie.
People held candles and signs reading “Life > Property” as a poem highlighting the importance of Boushie’s life and death was read.
“His name is the face of all our unjust fates,” a spoken word performer said to supporters.
“His name is love to all our relations, the people, our planet.”
The 22-year-old Red Pheasant man’s name has become a lightning rod for racial tensions bubbling to the surface in rural Saskatchewan, after he was shot and killed on the farm of Gerald Stanley on Aug. 9, 2016.
An SUV carrying Boushie and several friends pulled on to Stanley’s property, with witnesses inside the vehicle saying they were there to get help for a flat tire.
A police report shortly after the young man’s death indicated the SUV was connected to a theft complaint on a nearby farm.
Stanley is set to face trial for second-degree murder in the Town of Battleford from Jan. 29 to Feb. 15.
Boushie’s distant cousin Mylan Tootoosis addressed the vigil, saying many Indigenous families panicked when they heard one of their own had been shot.
“It was a traumatic event for the community,” he said.
Tootoosis asked the people gathered to remember during the court proceedings that Boushie isn’t the one on trial.
“It is Gerald Stanley who is on trial, for taking the life of an Indigenous man,” he said.
The distant relative, who didn’t know Boushie in life, also criticized the narrative surrounding the shooting death.
Tootoosis said media have been speaking of racial tensions on “both sides,” but suggested there is only racial animosity coming from one end.
“We’re not trying to start a race war, there’s no racial tensions on our side,” he said.
“It’s coming from one side, which is the settler colonial toxic narrative, that needs to be deconstructed.”
The vigil ended after 30 minutes with an open invitation for people to join the Boushie family in Battleford during Stanley’s trial.