THUNDER BAY – Racist comments posted online following the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man from Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan have shocked many people across Canada. The Assembly of First Nations and the AFN Saskatchewan Regional Chief are also very concerned over how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police presented the incident to the public.
“A young man is gone and our thoughts should be with his loved ones and family,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “To see racist, derogatory comments about this young man and about First Nations people online and on social media in response to this tragedy is profoundly disturbing. The AFN condemns these comments. They are racist, insensitive and ignorant. They are disheartening and a stark reminder of how much work we have to do to eliminate racism and discrimination. In too many ways, this is a sad day for Saskatchewan.”
Increasingly responsibility for comments made online have brought some media outlets to simply halt the process of allowing comments from people. The numbers of racist comments on many articles across Canada paint a far different image of Canadians than most people believe our country is like.
National Chief Bellegarde is in contact with officials in the Saskatchewan government and the federal government to ensure they are aware of the situation and to discuss ways to work together to deal with these attitudes. The National Chief and AFN Saskatchewan Regional Chief Bobby Cameron are in touch with First Nations leaders and officials in the region to stay on top of the situation.
AFN Saskatchewan Regional Chief Bobby Cameron extends condolences to the family of Colten Boushie and the community of the Red Pheasant First Nation. “We are saddened by the tragic death of Colten Boushie and offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends. This young man’s death is a tragedy. We are extremely disappointed in the way the RCMP have presented the shooting incident near Biggar, Saskatchewan, on August 9, 2016. The news release the RCMP issued the following day provided just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified. The messaging in an RCMP news release should not fuel racial tensions.”
Colten Boushie died from a gunshot wound on a farm near Biggar, Saskatchewan, on Tuesday, August 10. RCMP have charged a 54-year-old man from the Biggar area with second degree murder. Since the incident, racist comments about the youth and First Nations people have appeared on Facebook and social media. Some have been taken down but screenshots of the comments are still circulating online.