NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — A candlelight vigil has been held in memory of a Saskatchewan First Nations man whose shooting death on a rural property escalated racial tensions in the province.
Colten Boushie of the Red Pheasant First Nation was killed Aug. 10 after the vehicle he was in drove onto a farm near Biggar west of Saskatoon.
The property-owner, 54-year-old Gerald Stanley, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and is free on bail.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 13 in North Battleford, Sask.
About 80 people gathered at sunset Thursday night to remember the 22-year-old Boushie with traditional ceremonies and prayers.
His cousin Jade Tootoosis thanked the gathering for their support.
"It's been a very challenging three weeks for my family and I,'' she said. "We realize that what's happened to ... Colten not only affects us but has affected many people across Turtle Island and around the globe. We're here today as a community and a nation and a people to support one another.''
Kim Jonathan, vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, asked those gathered to support and love the Boushie family.
"This pain that we're feeling as an extended family of Colten's now — many of us have become a lot more close with what's happened,'' Jonathan said.
"We're here today as a community and a nation and a people to support one another."
Premier Brad Wall has said racism is not unique to Saskatchewan but condemned social media posts after the shooting and called comments he'd seen online "racist and hate-filled.''
First Nations leaders have said an initial RCMP release about the shooting stoked the flames because it stated people in the car were taken into custody as part of a theft investigation. They were released without charges.
Boushie's cousin, who was in the car at the time of the shooting, has said they were heading home to the Red Pheasant Cree Nation after an afternoon of swimming when they got a flat tire and were looking for help.
After the shooting, Ben Kautz, a farmer from Lampman, Sask., resigned as a rural councillor for posting an online comment in which he suggested the only mistake made during the shooting was "leaving witnesses.''
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