As I sit here shortening my friend list, and making some real enemies I wonder if there is a way that we can talk, like have the real conversation that needs to happen? My answer is the ever hopeful, steeped in empathy and bolstered by the ideal of education…yes. So here goes Saskatchewan, lets talk.
My rules for any conversation are that we must first agree on the facts; so here they are (linked because I expect you to check my sources).
- On Aug. 9, 2016, Boushie and four friends pulled up to Stanley’s farm in Biggar, Sask. with the intent of stealing an ATV
- There was a broken rifle in the car that had been used to attempt to steal a vehicle on a nearby farm. At no point was the gun from the car ever used or held by the young people in relation to this incident.
- Sheldon Stanley (Gerald’s son) said he chased a man off the ATV before smashing the vehicle’s windshield with a hammer as it tried to back out of the yard. He went into the house but He tells court he heard three shots before seeing his dad, standing close to the SUV, holding a gun and a clip.
- Gerald Stanley testified that he intended to fire the gun twice (to scare the young people) and has no idea how the gun went off as he was reaching in the car from the drivers side.
- AFTER Coulten Boushie is shot the two girls exit the SUV, and physically attack Gerald Stanley’s wife who has heard the shots and is approaching the car.
- The chronically understaffed RCMP leave the vehicle at the farm for two days with the door open (during which it rained) before properly securing it for analysis.
- At trial, the defense testifies that the gun fired because of Hang Fire, which in reality is extremely rare and usually happens within 10 seconds of firing the gun.
- The jury was instructed that they had three options to resolve the case 1) Convict Gerald Stanley of Second Degree Murder, 2) Reduce the charge to manslaughter 3) Acquit Gerald Stanley
As previously noted, these are the actual facts and not up for debate, so now let’s get to the real conversation and some lingering questions.
I know that in Canada lawyers are allowed to dismiss potential jurors for any reason they see fit. Is this something worth addressing? In the case against Gerald Stanley these peremptory challenges resulted in an all white jury. While this does not ensure racism, it certainly does not ensure a broad spectrum of worldviews either.
The RCMP is chronically under-funded and as a result under staffed in Saskatchewan. Should we address this very real concern? Crime in rural areas is on the rise, and not just theft, but violent crimes as well. There are a number of very real underlying issues that have resulted in high rural crime; extreme poverty and third world conditions on reserves, an increase in rural drug addiction rates, and the collapse of the oil economy that has left behind disillusionment and addictions. Is increased policing a valid response to social issues? in my opinion, no, but in this matter I am interested in yours. Where do you fall in the matter of under funded policing in rural Saskatchewan? Did this situation contribute to the death of Coulten Boushie?
And finally, we cannot take race out of the conversation. In rural Saskatchewan there exists a divide between the mostly settler based farming community and the mostly reserve based First Nations community. I can’t say why, it isn’t my story to tell, but I am certainly interested in the conversation. I can intimate that the ‘have verses have not’ conditions breed discontent, or that the continual break-ins and thefts put land owners on edge. But these things are surface responses to deep seething issues in our province that need clear and open minds to resolve, neither of which may ever exist here again. Are we even interested in resolution? Is reconciliation dead, or did it ever even really exist out there on the land where it really matters?
I am declaring an ethical safe space, and will allow any rational, non-racist comments to stay. Come on Saskatchewan, let’s talk.