It was an emotional night in North Battleford Thursday as family, friends and strangers held a candlelight vigil to honour a Cree man who was shot to death three weeks ago.
Around 100 people gathered at the Don Ross Centre to sing, dance and share stories in Colten Boushie’s memory.
“It’s been a challenging three weeks for my family and I,” Boushie’s first cousin, Jade Tootoosis, told the crowd.
“We realize that what’s happened to my brother, Colten, not only affects us, but has affected many people around Turtle Island and around the globe. We’re here today as a community, and a nation, to support one another.”
The 22-year-old from Red Pheasant First Nation was killed Aug. 9 after the vehicle he was in drove onto a farm in the rural municipality of Glenside, west of Saskatoon.
Gerald Stanley, 54, is charged with second-degree murder in Boushie’s death.
After racial tensions flared in online commentary of the story, hundreds of people rallied outside the accused’s bail hearings on Aug. 18. Organizers said the effort was a show of support for the victim’s family and to denounce hate.
“There were a lot of issues that came forward on social media—in the media itself—that led to those perceptions being carried out in past weeks,” said Sheldon Wuttunee, who is acting as the family’s spokesman.
Thursday’s vigil was calm—a reflection, Wuttunee said, of how the family wants to heal from the tragedy.
“Recognizing the importance of the message moving forward, and that certainly has been one of forgiveness and very importantly, not to retaliate,” he said.
“First Nations and non-First Nations are going to be living side by side in this country for generations to come.”
Kimberly Jonathan, the vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, attended the vigil Thursday. She commended Boushie’s family for their response following the shooting.
“The family did us all a service by keeping us all safe. They called on peace right away, they called on love right away,” Jonathan said.
“There were people that were ready to retaliate. There were so many youth that were frustrated, angry, hurt and scared … we all need to say thank you to Colten and his family for doing that.”