For a month, since Feb 10th when I heard the verdict in the Coulton Boushie killing, I have been trying to find words to share my response to it. I was still struggling when we heard the verdict in the death of Tina Fontaine. My heart is deeply bruised, words are washed away by tears.
I’ve worked “both sides of the street” when it comes to the Canadian courts. And I have learned, both a “victim” advocate and as an advocate for the accused, that “justice” and “legal” are not the same thing.
I’ve seen people’s reputations and careers trashed because of unproven allegations (for example, allegations of sexual misconduct). So evidence and proof is vital for truth to be heard, because (sadly) not all allegations are true. And I know, very well, the other side: even if allegations cannot be proven, it doesn’t mean the actions didn’t happen. “Innocent” and “Acquitted”, “Truth” and “Verdict” are not the same thing.
A one-minute newsclip cannot replace hours of evidence and testimony from any courtroom, so I dare not speak to how each jury came to their verdict. But the truth is clear that the court system did not bring justice. Even if they were legally correct decisions, there are still two, not coincidentally Indigenous, youth dead, with no one held responsible.
So now what do we do?
As spiritual people, regardless of our ethnic heritage or politics, we are called to raise our voices. Are we not charged by conscience, by connection to one another, to “make justice roll like a mighty river” in our country?
As spiritual people we know that each person, animal, waterway, acre of land is related by the Web of Life; what happens to another affects me. How are you affected by these verdicts?
We also know that until we see one another as equals, each life as worthy one another, we will repeat the same mistakes over and over. Until our social systems give equal-value status to Women, Indigeneous, Children & Youth, those who are non-“White” and other groups that are dis-advantaged, we will continue to see unchecked violence – personal and systemic – perpetrated against them. And our spirits bruised by that violence.
Perhaps movements like #JusticeforColton, #LoveforTina, and #MeToo, have opened a crack that may let some light in, an opportunity to turn the tide.
We need to work together to make Hope real. Doesn’t that begin by seeking out, and hearing, each other’s voices and stories? Be moved by them to appropriate action? But to really to hear all the voices and stories, we have to listen even to the ones that are painful for us to hear, or we disagree with. The status quo is build on conflict; hope is built on support. To quote Senator (Justice) Murray Sinclair: And to those who say “why don’t they just get over it?” I say “Because I am reminded of it every day.”*
My hearts hurt with these families, and the hundreds more like them. Regardless of how these verdicts came to be, I believe we are all broken by this system. It is time to draw together, to see one another, to hold hands in one march forward. They’re right: #TimesUp.
As spiritual people, regardless of any religious affiliation, may we draw our hearts together and pray, each in our own fashion:
**At these times, we are invited to drink deeply from this Sacred Water that you have prepared for us. Water that will
sustain our honesty,
nourish our spirits,
restore our souls,
clarify our struggles,
feed our communities, and
bring abundant life.
Some day may Creation return to the design, where all people will know that they are respected, beloved, and equal in value and worth.
Until that time comes, may we have the wisdom, strength, and perseverance to
recognize racism in all its pervasive forms,
reject the lie of White supremacy, and
reclaim the truth that we are all sacred, worthy, and equal
so that all children can drink freely from the Sacred Waters.
All My Relations.
May it be So.
** prayer adapted from resources of United Church of Canada, www.united-church.ca
and further reading: