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Family of Colten Boushie feel their voices were heard during visit to Ottawa

Last Updated Feb 14, 2018 at 9:41 am PST

Debbie Baptiste, mother of Colten Boushie, holds up a photo of her son as she speaks to reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons after a day of meetings on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The family of Colten Boushie says they have felt both welcomed and heard in their effort to press the federal government for change following the acquittal of the man charged in his death.

Boushie’s cousin, Jade Tootoosis, says that the family felt excluded and ignored by the justice system following the fatal 2016 shooting in Saskatchewan.

But Tootoosis says the family’s meetings on and around Parliament Hill this week have made them feel they are finally being heard.

A number of visibly Indigenous people were excluded without cause from the jury that last week acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, in the shooting death of Boushie, 22, a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation.

Tootoosis says the family will continue working to root out what they describe as systemic racism plaguing the Canadian criminal justice system, and that education and open dialogue will help bring about unity.

The Liberals have long promised justice reforms, but Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould now says the government is reviewing the use of peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject jury candidates during the selection process.

Later today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to use a speech in the House of Commons to lay out the government’s plans for a new legislative framework for Indigenous rights.