Film about controversial Colten Boushie legal case opens ILSA Speaker Series

Indigenous Law Students' Association screens NFB film Thursday, hosts speakers Monday

Helen Metella - 24 February 2020

UAlberta Law students have a special opportunity this week to view a National Film Board documentary about a controversial murder trial that followed Colten Boushie's death and to engage in a discussion about it next week.

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up will be screened in the Law Centre on February 27 as part of the pre-programming to the 2020 Indigenous Law Students' Association Speaker Series.

On March 2, Boushie's sister and the Boushie family's lawyer will be the first featured panellists of ILSA's week-long annual speaker series. Their presentation will trace their experiences during the second-degree murder trial of a Saskatchewan farmer who fatally shot Boushie after the young Indigenous man and his friends drove onto his rural property in 2016.

Boushie's friends testified that they were looking for help with a flat tire. The farmer, Gerald Stanley, testified that he believed the group was about to steal a vehicle and that the fatal shot was discharged accidentally.

The trial ended in acquittal on the charges of both murder and manslaughter. It is considered a harshly polarizing event in the relationship between Canada's Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens. It raised issues of racism in Canada and systemic barriers to access to justice.

This month, there was a call for a public inquiry due to perceived injustices at the trial, including the Crown's decision not to appeal the acquittal and the rejection of the family's request for an independent investigation.

Tasha Hubbard, the film's director and an associate professor in the Faculty of Native Studies, followed the Boushie family from the beginning of the legal process to its conclusion.

"We followed (them) as victims and quickly we saw that they weren't being treated that way," Hubbard recently told the Anishinabek

"There were elected officials in Saskatchewan saying on their social media that (the farmer who killed Colten) was a hero and people were saying things like, 'He shouldn't have left witnesses, that was his only mistake.' So I think those things have to be talked about, and sometimes it is painful but it is necessary."

Hubbard's film also deals with the history of colonial violence in Canada's west and the story of her own family.

The film has received numerous awards, including Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.

It will be screened at noon in McLennan Ross Hall on February 27.