WATCH: Hundreds gather for candle light vigil for Colten Boushie
Hundreds gathered this afternoon on the Concordia University downtown campus for a vigil in remembrance of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old indigenous man who was shot and killed in August 2016.
“We’re here because a great injustice has been done,” said Nakuset, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, who helped organize the gathering.
On Friday, Gerald Stanley, 54, a rural Saskatchewan farmer, who had been charged with second degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie, was acquitted by a jury that appeared to be all-white, prompting backlash and protests across the country.
“As indigenous people, we’ve seen this time and time again,” Nakuset said in an interview before the vigil started. “When we spoke amongst ourselves about the verdict, we all said, oh yeah, the guy’s going to get off. But, when the verdict was read, we were devastated.”
“You have to understand that across Canada there’s this feeling of despair,” she continued. “What we want to do today is bring everybody together so that they can gather and share their feelings, but also for hope.”
Nakuset was just one of the many speakers who over the course of an hour and a half, delivered messages of peace and unity to the crowd.
“Indigenous peoples have always called for peace,” one woman said into a red megaphone that was passed from one speaker to the next. “We have never terrorized anybody. All we want is peace and justice.”
Many in the crowd held up signs and wore black arm- and headbands bearing the words, "Justice for Colten Boushie."
After reading a message from the Colten’s family, Nakuset urged the gathering to voice their support for the Boushies and the indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, which are experiencing what she described as emboldened racism in the wake of the verdict.
“The racism there is so over the top,” she said. “The racist people feel glorified in the verdict and indigenous people feel that they have to protect themselves even more now.”
Despite rising tensions in some communities across Canada, Nakuset was determined to make this gathering about ways to find solutions for the future.
“We’re not here for revenge,” she said. “We’re here because we need to move forward and because we have children and we want to make it better for those children.”
At the mention of her children, Nakuset’s voice cracked slightly, the gravity of the event taking hold of her for a moment.
“This is where it starts,” she finished.