Vjosa Isai, Toronto Star, February 15 2018
The RCMP is investigating reports that an officer made a Facebook post suggesting Colten Boushie “got what he deserved.”
Boushie, a 22-year-old from the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, was shot and killed in 2016. Gerald Stanley, 56, was acquitted of second-degree murder in a verdict last week by an all-white jury, spurring protests across the country in what many believe was a racially motivated decision.
The RCMP told the Star that there are no officers with the name linked to the Facebook account, and didn’t confirm whether the woman worked as an officer under another name.
Sources in an APTN report told the network the woman was an officer.
“Too bad the kid died but he got what he deserved. How many of us work on or near reserves and are getting fed up with the race card being used every time someone gets caught breaking the law?,” she said.
The comment was posted in a Facebook group called “News Stories that Matter to or May Impact RCMP,” which has about 1,200 members.
“Obviously, this remark is absolutely appalling and unacceptable,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a teleconference with journalists Thursday.
“It’s under very, very serious investigation to determine exactly what has happened here, and who is responsible for it.”
It’s unclear when the post was made, but on Wednesday evening, the user also put up a photo on her own Facebook account of a gun silhouette, featuring the text, “This home is protected by the good Lord and a gun. If you came here to steal or do harm you might meet them both.”
During the trial, one of Boushie’s friends initially told police that the group of five friends was checking out a truck on Stanley’s farm, but told court they were actually there to steal a vehicle.
The woman’s Facebook account has now been made private.
She also said the justice system does not “protect the innocent” in her post.
“This should never have been allowed to be about race . . . crimes were committed and a jury found the man not guilty in protecting his home and family,” the woman said.
“It should be sending a message to the criminal element that his crap is not going to be tolerated and if you value your life then stay away from what isn’t yours.”
She didn’t respond to the Star’s request for comment.
In an emailed statement, the RCMP said it will be investigating the social media posts, but would not confirm whether an officer’s conduct is under review for privacy reasons.
RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Marie Damian said the Facebook post is “antithetical to the standards of the RCMP and the manner in which its employees are bound to conduct themselves.”
Both on- and off-duty Mounties are expected to adhere to code of conduct rules, which includes social media use, Damian said in a statement.
“The RCMP is committed to the reconciliation process with Indigenous peoples, and improving upon these relationships in every way possible,” she said.
Chad Haggerty, a former RCMP officer of 17 years and First Nations law student currently at the University of Calgary, said he was “not even a little bit surprised” by the disparaging comments.
Before he left the force in 2011, Haggerty worked in various Indigenous reserves in Alberta, getting first-hand experience with disproportionately high incarceration rates in those communities.
“What Facebook comments like that, or comments in the public, tell Indigenous people is that they’re not going to get a fair shake,” he said.
Haggerty said he and Indigenous co-workers experienced different kinds of racism in the workforce, like being called “chief” pejoratively, or cultural sensitivity training about Aboriginals being referred to as “hug an Indian” courses.
“I was flat out told that ‘we’d like to keep our Indians working with Indians’ and that’s a direct quote,” he said, describing comments he received from a staffing sergeant in response to his request for a transfer to a non-Indigenous community.
Fears of professional retaliation from blowing the whistle on these issues discourages officers from coming forward, he said, and he’s glad that social media attracted attention to the issue.
Some users in the Facebook group said the woman’s comments “make the entire force look like a bunch of bigoted (expletive). Maybe we should turn down the trash talk and remember that every person we serve is also a human being who deserves basic respect.”
Darryl Davies, a criminologist and professor at Carleton University, said Indigenous communities and the RCMP have long had a fractured relationship.
“To be honest with you, we often hear politicians sing that song that we’re all tolerant people. I really question that. I see very little evidence of that. I mean, do Canadians even care?”