A jury verdict in Saskatchewan late Friday is prompting strong reactions across the country. Overnight, rallies were held in major cities from Toronto to Vancouver.

At noon today, supporters of the Boushie family are expected to gather in front of the Kenora courthouse. They say farmer Gerald Stanley should've been convicted in connection with the shooting death of a First Nations youth, Colten Boushie.

Tania Cameron of Dalles First Nation is helping to organize today's rally in Kenora.

"As soon as we heard the not-guilty verdict, we were just... I know I personally was just enraged. I was hurt. I was really angry. I had to leave it alone for a little bit," she said Sunday.

Still, Cameron says they want the event to be peaceful and constructive.

"We have to be smart. We have to be tactful in our rage. We have a reason. We have a purpose for our young people. We don't want them to live in this kind of a society," she added.

Over the weekend, the prime minister and senior members of his cabinet -- including Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould -- have offered condolences to Boushie Family for the loss of their son.

"Just spoke with (Wilson-Raybould)," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau via Twitter, while on a trade visit to California. "I can't imagine the grief and sorrow the Boushie family is feeling tonight. Sending love to them from the US."

"Thank you PM .," replied the minister, also through her Twitter account. "My thoughts are with the family of Colton Boushie tonight. I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better - I am committed to working everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians."

However, their position is being seen in some quarters as going too far.

Toronto criminal lawyer Sean Robichaud told Canadian Press it is ''wholly inappropriate for elected officials to publicly undermine findings of a lawfully delivered verdict.''

He also says any public comments from the prime minister questioning the credibility of the judiciary pose a threat to the democratic system.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told Broadcast News Saturday, "The 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie is tragic, but the independent judicial process must run its course without political intervention."

The Crown is still weighing the possibility of an appeal of the verdict in the case.

During the trial, the 56-year-old non-Indigenous farmer -- Gerald Stanley -- said he was trying to defend his family and his property, when he accidentally shot Boushie.

However, in her comments Sunday, Cameron said she doesn't buy it.

"You know, it's only going to be those people that were at the scene, who are truly going to know," she said. "But to totally disregard the First Nations peoples' account of what happened that day? I don't think it's fair."

As a result of the case, Cameron says they're revisiting a long-standing issue. She would like to see more Indigenous people on jury rolls, so they can take part in the legal system.

"My people are over-represented in the justice system, and I think that we need to step up as First Nations people, as Indigenous people, to be part of that. If it's as part of a jury list, then let's put our name on a jury list," she said.

Former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci was appointed by the province to study the issue seven years ago in 2011. His report came out in 2013, but in 2015 cases were still being delayed by issues with jury rolls.

An article in the Law Times by Dale Smith notes a committee assigned to implementing the recommendations of the Iacobucci report issued an interim report in 2015, and a final report is apparently on its way.

Smith also referred to a 2015 decision, where the Supreme Court of Canada set aside an appeal involving a Grassy Narrows member, Clifford Kokopenace. In the case of R. v. Kokopenace, the court ruled 5-2 against the complaint about the jury, where the defence said there hadn't been sufficient aboriginal representation. Kokopenace had been convicted of manslaughter in connection with the death of Taylor Assin.

Today's rally at the Kenora courthouse is set to start at noon, then make its way to Kenora MP Bob Nault's office in the Bannister Building. However, staff said the MP is in Ottawa, since the House of Commons is in session.

For more information:

First Nations representation on Ontario Juries (Iacobucci report)

Supreme Court of Canada - R. v. Kokopenace

Law Times - Improve aboriginal jury representation, lawyers

KenoraOnline - Supreme Court upholds conviction, despite jury roll flaws (Kokopenace decision)

KenoraOnline - Jury rolls in compliance for trial (Ed Wilson case)

 

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