Boushie family spokesperson Sheldon Wuttunee speaks to a crowd outside a bail hearing for Colten Boushie's accused killer. Photo by Joel Willick.
It was an emotionally charged atmosphere in the Battlefords on Thursday.
Hundreds of people gathered at two different courthouses throughout the day to show support for the family and friends of Colten Boushie.
Earlier this month, the 22-year-old Boushie of Red Pheasant First Nation was shot and killed at a farm in the RM of Glendale. Gerald Stanley, the man accused of second-degree murder in his death, had two different court appearances on Thursday. The large crowd of Boushie supporters followed. Many carried signs that read "Justice for Colten" and chanted that same sentiment on numerous occasions.
On Thursday, the public witnessed Stanley enter a not guilty plea for the charge against him and a judge reserved his decision on possible bail.
The day began at provincial court where Stanley made a brief appearance and his lawyer entered the not guilty plea. The day's events then switched to the Court of Queens Bench in Battleford, where a bail hearing was scheduled. The evidence presented during the hearing is subject to a publication ban, but one person did leave the courtroom in tears during the proceedings. Many people were expected the presiding judge to render a decision after the hearing, but he says he needs at least a night to think about all the information presented during the afternoon. A written decision is expected either Friday or early next week.
The incident sparked a flood of many racist comments online with politicians and First Nation leaders calling for the comments to stop. Even the RCMP threatened criminal charges for the hateful comments. Outside the courthouse, Colten's friend, Edward Soonias, also called for an end to these comments.
"We all should be together as a community, and we shouldn't be fighting each other," said Soonias.
Soonias along with others affectionately referred to Colten as "CoCo." Many online comments since his passing have called him hard working and respectful. Soonias repeated those comments.
"He did things with dedication, he helped everybody in the community," said Soonias. "He was a good guy, it's unfair for this to happen."
A spokesperson for the Boushie family says while the outcome of the bail hearing wasn't the answer they were looking for, the family will still put their trust in the legal system.
"It's a very difficult time for the family. It was very heartbreaking to hear some of the information conveyed," said Sheldon Wuttunee. "But again, we need to follow through with the investigation as it continues and the legal process that will continue into the upcoming days and months." Wuttunee also thanked all those who gathered in support and encouraged them to remain peaceful in their rallies.
"I want to really ensure that we are sending a message that this isn't a rally of retaliation, but it is a rally of support and love for the incident that's occurred," said Wuttunne.
Speaking to reporters before the bail hearing, FSIN Vice-Chief Kimberly Jonathan echoed these statements, saying the Boushie family has asked everyone be peaceful.
"His brother wanted me to relay to all Canadians that the family wants love and they don't want anger or retaliation," said Jonathan. "His words were that everyone go home tonight and honour Colten in the way of loving your family and community and spreading that goodness."
"He also says they do not paint all farmers with the same brush," concluded Vice-Chief Jonathan.
Stanley's next court appearance will be on September 13th, 2016 at Provincial Court in North Battleford.