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Until Next Time

Two emotional meltdowns in two weeks makes for a tough two weeks but that's what the Indigenous community went through last month with the acquittals of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier. In the end, two middle-aged white men responsible for the deaths of two Indigenous kids walked free and the kids, 22-year-old Colten Boushie and 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, were marched for, prayed for, mourned for and immortalized on a long list of martyrs that includes the likes of Helen Betty Osborne and J.J. Harper. 

Stanley?s story made as much logistical sense as Robert Cross' when the latter?s gun "discharged," and killed Harper but the all white jury believed him. The "lack of evidence" in the Cormier trial reminiscent of how Johnston, Houghton, Colgan and Manger thwarted justice for Betty Osborne. 

And what did we hear? Defense of property. If they weren't trespassing it wouldn't have happened. The system failed her. But the system didn't fail her. It succeeded. It succeeded in doing exactly what it was designed to do, maintain current power structures. Another way of saying maintain systemic racism. 

Words most people, white people, don't like to hear but are displayed in actions, such as the exclusion of Indigenous people to create an all white jury. Yeah, the lawyer (also known as a solicitor) was just doing their job. The system set up so that it's easy for white 
people to create an all white jury. Not so easy for Indigenous people to create an all Indigenous jury. 

Some wipipo mourned and protested with us, most were quiet. Shocked by our reaction to it, epitomised by Debbie Baptiste's wail in a Battleford courtroom as yt pipo scurried for the door. 

We were angry, but not surprised. We lashed out. We marched. And I don?t think many of our moniyaw friends knew what to say. 

It was tense for awhile. Then awkward, and then it happened again. The Cormier acquittal. The victim was put on trial and blamed again, but instead of trespassing, this time the mainstream media was quick to let everyone know there were drugs and alcohol in the child?s system. Her fault. The system's fault. The system's broken. 

But it isn't. 

She was found in the Red River in a garbage bag when they were searching for Faron Hall's body, the Homeless Hero. The wave of rage and grief rose again, but we weren't surprised. We know how this story goes. We've lived it our entire lives. 

Qallunaat mourned with us and marched with us and this time our pakia friends were quicker to offer support. A few words. Hand on a shoulder. The gestures are appreciated. I?m not sure if they actually understood or if it was because of our reaction to the Stanley acquittal, and our reaction to them at the Stanley acquittal. Guess it doesn?t matter, though one friend did admit they would never fully understand. We felt some love from our yt friends and there was a sincere and powerful expression of love for Tina 
Fontaine at the Oodena Circle at The Forks. 

We heeded the words of her family -- no violence. 

To my white friends, sorry I was so mad at you. It gets emotional. As it should, despite the b*****t decorum they want to keep in the courtrooms when verdicts come in. But trust me, it?ll happen again. I know how this story goes. Like Niigaanwewidam Sinclair, I lost hope at times too. The youth slapped him upside the head for it. My sister did the same to me in a comment on one of my social media posts. 

There was despair. We were triggered. Retraumatized. And now... we breathe. We read the words of our writers, our leaders, our kids. Our voices. So many now. Jesse Wente, Ntawnis Piapot, DJ Daddy Justice (otherwise known as Senator Murray Sinclair, Niigaanwewidom?s pop). We take our dogs for long walks in the snow as our rage and revenge scenarios fade away. 

Until next time. 

Meanwhile I have to tell a bunch of moniyaw friends that they're still my friends, just not on that particular, social media platform. No offence by it, it's just social media and it was for social media effect. Most took it in stride but some took it pretty hard. So I'll have to remind them. 

Don't make this about you. This is not about you. This is about two Indigenous kids posthumously put on trial.

(Editor?s note: Moniyaw is Cree for Caucasian. Qallunaat is Inuktitut, Pakia is Maori.)

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