Colten Boushie was fatally shot in the head on a farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016.
Rallies are being held across Canada this weekend in the wake of a jury finding Gerald Stanley not guilty of the second-degree murder of Colten Boushie.
The late Friday verdict shocked Boushie supporters and saw Indigenous leaders call for calm amid wrestling with their own feelings.
“…the jury system is going to be a flawed and unjust system,” Indigenous Senator and former judge Murray Sinclair posted on Facebook.
“The United Kingdom enacted legislation to remove (striking Indigenous people from the jury). It’s time for Canada to do the same or this will not be the last time we see such injustice.”
Sinclair, best-known for championing reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples, was not alone.
“How can there be no consequences at all for shooting and killing Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man?” asked Lillian Dyck on her Facebook page.
Dyck is an Indigenous senator from Saskatchewan, where the trial in Battleford polarized citizens racial views and politicians warned people to react responsibly.
A Stanley supporter wasted no time in seeking donations online for legal fees.
“Unfortunate events to follow led to, what was proved to be, a freak accident, which cost the life of one of the young men” wrote Sam Olson on a gofundme page set for $25,000.
“As I can imagine, the Stanley family has spent thousands on legal fees surrounding this ordeal.”
The 56-year-old farmer from Biggar was portrayed as protecting his property with a gun that he claimed fired accidentally, while Boushie, 22, was described as a threat in a vehicle full of would-be thieves despite court being told he was asleep.
“We will not give up our fight for justice,” Boushie’s cousin Jade Tootoosis said immediately afterwards on the courthouse steps, where she has been the family spokesperson.
She expressed doubts about a fair trial after the 12-person jury appeared to lack any Indigenous members. Something the first federal Aboriginal justice minister noticed, too.
“My thoughts are with the family of Colten Boushie tonight,” Jodi Wilson-Raybould said Friday on Twitter. “I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices.
“As a country we can and must do better.”
Saskatchewan chiefs urged the public to speak out on social media and suggested the verdict was a challenge to reconciliation efforts.
“This is not going to go away any time soon,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron. “Something has to happen. The federal government has to happen.”
But Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe warned people to be careful.
“I would urge everyone to be measured in their reaction,” he said in a statement asking for calm. “Let us all remember our personal responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, and our comments – including those on social media.”
The Boushie family hired its own lawyer and is raising money to pay legal and travel costs associated with the trial.
APTN National News will have full coverage of the verdict and rallies on Sunday’s newscast.