The family of Colten Boushie is meeting with federal ministers in Ottawa this week, calling for justice following the non-guilty verdict in the 22-year-old Cree man’s shooting death.
A jury acquitted Gerald Stanley, a white Saskatchewan farmer, of second-degree murder on Friday after Boushie was shot dead on his farm in August 2016.
The Boushie family is meeting with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett on Monday.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, will join the family in a meeting with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Tuesday.
Wilson-Raybould and Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott already took to Twitter to express their support for Boushie’s family and call for improvements.
“My thoughts are with the family of Colten Boushie tonight,” Wilson-Raybould wrote Friday. “I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better – I am committed to working every day to ensure justice for all Canadians.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed those sentiments in California, during a four-day trip to the U.S.
“I’m not going to comment on the process that led to this point today, but I am going to say we have come to this point as a country far too many times,” he said.
And he added “that we have to do better.”
These comments were met with backlash among federal Conservatives, accusing Trudeau of “political interference” in the Canadian justice system.
“The tragic death and pain for the family of (Colten Boushie) is unimaginable, and our thoughts are with his community,” Conservative Indigenous affairs critic Cathy McLeod wrote on Twitter.
However, she added, “we need to let the many steps of an independent judicial process unfold without political interference.”
Several Tory MPs also retweeted a comment from Toronto criminal lawyer Sean Robichaud, who argued it was “wholly inappropriate for elected officials to publicly undermine findings of a lawfully delivered verdict, particularly when it is one of a jury.”
Following the Friday verdict, thousands of Boushie supporters from Halifax to Vancouver rallied in memory of the young man and called for changes to Canada’s justice system.
– With files from The Canadian Press