You can replace an ATV. You can replace a truck. You can replace farm equipment. You can’t replace a human being.
These simple facts have unfortunately been lost on many people when it comes to their stance on the death of Colton Boushie.
It’s callous hypocrisy, especially from a part of Canada that prides itself on being “pro-life.”
The 22-year-old from Red Pheasant First Nation was shot in the head by 56-year-old farmer Gerald Stanley of Biggar, Sask. That is an undisputed fact.
Disputed is whether Stanley meant to do so, whether it was a freak accident and whether Stanley’s actions were reasonable in the situation.
Last month, a jury acquitted Stanley of second-degree murder charges.
During Stanley’s trial, testimony from those who were with Boushie stated they had been drinking during the day and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm. After getting a flat tire, they went to the Stanley property to ask for help.
Their actions were interpreted by the Stanley family as trespassing, with an intent to commit property crimes.
Stanley testified that he fired warning shots to scare the group off, and that fatal shot occurred when he reached into the SUV to grab the keys out of the ignition and his gun “just went off.”
Despite what many people have so callously said, Boushie did not “get what he deserved”.
There are countless people who, at the young age of 22, make idiotic decisions, especially when alcohol is involved, that leads to mischief and property crimes.
Even if we are to believe the worst about Boushie, what he “deserved” was to be arrested and charged for whatever crimes he had committed. To have answered to the community for his actions in a court of law. To have the chance to pay restitution, to make amends, to get set down the right path like many young people before him.
He didn’t deserve a bullet to the head.
It should be emphasized that Stanley’s main defence and testimony was that the fatal shot was a mishap.
Which makes it especially disturbing to see the number of people willing to defend Stanley had the shot been intentional — declaring that they themselves would have acted in the exact same way, intentionally firing at a vehicle filled with people.
Let’s be clear: Life is not some action or western movie where the heroic protagonist single-handedly brings down the bad guys through a combination of cleverness and hotshot marksmanship.
This is the real world, where shooting off a gun as a solution to a scary situation is most likely to end in horrific tragedy.
Stanley is extremely lucky that more people, including his family, weren’t seriously injured and killed.
What especially ruins any perception of good faith with the stance of Stanley’s defenders is how so many will easily transition into nasty, hateful, ignorant screeds about Indigenous people as a whole, such as pinning the blame for rural crime on roving bands of aboriginal youth.
Never mind that a great deal of this crime is committed by white folks, and even fellow farmers.
Even if the jury made the right call for acquitting Stanley of second-degree murder, the subsequent decision to not impose a conviction on a lesser charge such as manslaughter is extremely troubling.
It affirms that people can take the law into their own hand if they feel even the least bit threatened, and not be held accountable for it.
It affirms what many Indigenous people already know: That underneath Canada’s thin veneer of politeness and civility, property is more valued than the life of an Indigenous person.