I suppose we all knew, going into both trials, that the verdict would be Not Guilty. Yet it still broke our hearts. This is too much, yet we are only just beginning. How many more murders, how many more “not guilty” verdicts, how much more pain and injustice?? How can one expect justice from a system that was written and conceived without the inclusion of minorities? When it comes down to it, I wonder if a White person could fathom their own son or daughter walking in the footsteps of Colten or Tina, or any of the Black youth gunned down in American streets?
Yes I draw a parallel because what I see here, and what I see in America is the failure of the justice system to protect the people repeatedly. That’s right, the people. Our children, our youth. We are so comfortable to “other” these children. Media victim blamed Tina for having alcohol and drugs in her system, yet where are the reports on CFS?! It is widely known that youth coming to the city from reserve communities, which Canada has been condemned for as having third world conditions in its own back yard, are placed into hotel rooms without supervision for weeks. It has been reported that they venture out and what good is there to find on the streets? Coming from conditions of abuse within their own families, due to inter-generational trauma stemming from the recent residential school system, (which White Canada is all too quick to forget, and like Americans expect that Indigenous people should just get over it like 300 years of slavery), and third world living conditions (no running water, dilapidated housing, no resources or community centers, lack of education, malnutrition, etc) and then being thrown into what is arguably continued abuse in our CFS system, these children are then blamed for turning to the streets, and in Tina Fontaine’s case, its her fault that she was raped, murdered and thrown into the red river, because she had drugs and alcohol in her system, and at age 15 she should be held responsible for her own actions, regardless of the fact that the system failed her. White people whose children are safe at home with them have an impossible time wrapping their heads around these facts, that this is life for a lot of our children and youth. The high suicide rates in reserve communities among youth is not enough to call attention to the suffering within indigenous communities. Now these verdicts, much like in America are telling White people that it is ok to rape, and to murder black bodies, brown bodies, and indigenous bodies.
The Colten verdict was upsetting, but not surprising. Yet still they say it is not about race. I can’t understand how a person can fire a gun 3 times, and in the back of the head of your supposed assailant and claim self defense or that the gun misfired? If the Crown failed to present a strong enough case for a guilty verdict despite the evidence, I question Why? And the answer, as in Tina’s case, is institutionalized racism. These laws were not written for us. How can someone be caught on recording, all but confessing, wrap a 15 year old girl’s body in a duvet and throw it in the Red River, with bricks weighing it down, and still there is reasonable doubt as to how she died, and that it was murder. What about all of the black bodies across America, who were unarmed, who were children “mistaken” for other perpetrators…yet it is not about race, that is not racial profiling?
What are we supposed to do when we know, Black or Brown or Indigenous that there is no justice in this system for us? That these laws were not written for us, that our defense, the Crown or the State does not work to protect us. Where do we find justice? How do we find justice. When will our blood stop flowing and our bodies matter?
The Tina Fontaine verdict brought tears to my eyes. I am not Indigenous, but I am a minority, and I am tired of seeing so many injustices against the people who I consider to be my people, be it here in Canada or Black Americans. Its too much. All of the “not guilty” verdicts are too much.
For me, the verdict is in; Racism runs rampant and unchecked in North America.