CUPE Ontario and its Aboriginal Council wish to express our heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the family of Colten Boushie, his friends and all Indigenous peoples. The killing of Colten Boushie and the failure to convict the person who killed him is another stain on Canada’s justice system and how it deals with Indigenous peoples.
Canada’s justice system does not work for Indigenous peoples. Their representation as police officers, prosecutors, judges, and on juries is almost non-existent in our system. Indigenous culture and values are not represented in Canada’s “rule of law”.
The failure of Canada’s justice system is another example of the societal injustices Indigenous peoples face. Residential schools, the 60’s scoop, the failure to investigate missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, the lack of adequate education funding for Indigenous children, the violation of treaty rights, imprisonment rates, lack of clean water on reserves, and crippling poverty are evidence of Canada’s discriminatory approach to Indigenous peoples.
Radical change needs to happen in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
CUPE Ontario’s Aboriginal Council calls on the government of Canada to reform our justice system so that it reflects the culture and values of Indigenous peoples. We need to work toward the creation of an Indigenous peoples’ justice system and to end the practice of peremptory challenge that was used by the defence in the Colten Boushie trial to exclude Indigenous peoples from the jury resulting in an all-white jury. Changing the jury selection process so that it does not discriminate was an action that Justice Murray Sinclair called for back in 1991. Five years ago, former Justice Frank Iacobucci also recommended that Ontario urge the federal government to end peremptory challenges.
It is time for change and CUPE Ontario and the Aboriginal Council will continue to fight for the changes necessary to ensure Indigenous peoples get justice.