An emotional vigil was held on Saturday in memory of a young Indigenous man who was killed by a white farmer in 2016.
About 200 people attended the 90-minute event outside of the Halifax provincial courthouse on Spring Garden Road.
Gerald Stanley, 56, was found not guilty of second-degree murder on Friday in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie. Boushie was a resident of the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan.
— Ross Andersen (@MrRossAndersen) February 10, 2018
People cried and shouted as Boushie’s story was told. Amanda Rekunyk organized the vigil in response to the anger she felt following the verdict.
“Indigenous folks all across Turtle Island needed to get together to drum, heal and sing to offer prayers to Colten’s family,” Rekunyk said in an interview. “I would like to see there is action from Indigenous people and their allies to get Gerald Stanley behind bars.”
The vigil began with drumming and singing, followed by speeches from Indigenous leaders and advocates and a smudging ceremony.
Patricia Doyle-Bedwell is a Mi’kmaq woman, mother and Dalhousie Indigenous studies professor. She hopes to see a “ground swelling of support,” for Boushie’s family.
“I’m enraged, sad and I’m frustrated about the not guilty verdict that was handed down last night,” she said in an interview. “Our children are dying.”
A 12-person jury deliberated for more than 24 hours before coming to a verdict in the Stanley case. The case and its decision has been met with criticism because all of the jury members were white.
A national day of action took place across the country in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Regina. Halifax was the only Atlantic province to hold a demonstration.
More demonstrations are expected to continue Sunday and Monday.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Boushie’s family to raise $70,000. As of Sunday morning, the goal had been met.
Doyle-Bedwell said people need to recognize the racism in Canada and issues with the criminal justice system.
“I don’t want to hear about another kid getting killed,” she said. “I just can’t handle it.”