After an RCMP investigation found no misconduct in the way officers interacted with the family of Colten Boushie on the night of the young man’s death, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for better First Nations representation in criminal investigations.
Following Boushie’s shooting death on a Saskatchewan farm in 2016, the young man’s family filed a complaint alleging they were mistreated by RCMP investigators. According to RCMP, the complaint from Boushie’s mother Debbie Baptiste said she felt the investigation “seemed out of the ordinary and intensive.” The mother claimed an officer told her to “get it together” after she learned of her son’s death and collapsed, and later asked if she’d been drinking.
Although the RCMP Supt. Mike Gibbs apologized for the intensive nature of the investigation, he wrote in an Oct. 19 report that none of the officers engaged in unacceptable behaviour, and their response was “tactical in nature.”
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said racism exists within the ranks of the RCMP, and better Indigenous representation is required in order to ensure equal treatment under the law.
“We need First Nations representation when it comes to investigations of this nature,” Cameron said in a statement. “You have officers investigating officers, showing that the justice system doesn’t serve First Nations with the same standard of care that it should.”
The national police force showed a lack of sensitivity during their investigation of Boushie’s shooting, Cameron said, yet nothing has been done to address the deep-rooted issues.
“One of the RCMP’s own commissioners, Bob Paulson admitted that there is racism within RCMP ranks,” Cameron said. “What measures has he and his fellow senior officers taken to address it?”
Gerald Stanley, the farmer accused of murder in Boushie’s death, will go on trial in January in North Battleford.
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