I, like many, am still reeling over the outcome of the trial for the killing of Colten Boushie, which has dominated our news since Friday. I hope all our Indigenous students, residents, faculty, staff and patients know that your college supports you.
For me, the first shock was the use of peremptory challenge to eliminate anyone of Indigenous appearance from jury duty. As my wife had once served on a jury, I was familiar with this aspect of our criminal justice system, but it never occurred to me it could be used in such an openly racist manner here in Canada.
As I am in medicine and not law, I will make no further comment on the legal system. But this situation raises two questions for me.
First, what are we all doing this week, this month, and beyond to support Indigenous colleagues, learners, friends and patients? There is little doubt in my mind, if I was from any minority group that experienced this, my world would have changed on Friday night. It is incumbent on the non-Indigenous among us to reach out to our Indigenous community members and reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation and Indigenous health and well-being.
Second, as a part of the education, science and healthcare communities, what can we do to make things better, in response? As citizens we can take political action, and in our professional and learner roles, we can search for our own opportunities to make a positive change to the racism that still exists in our university and healthcare systems. As educators, we have a particular duty and opportunity, expressed by Senator Murray Sinclair, who identifies education as the key to reconciliation.
Our own actions can positively change the collective future of this province. We need to do this for our Indigenous colleagues and students and all members of our college. We need to acknowledge the hurt and anger and work toward a better society, one that is just and honourable. We need to create safe, respectful spaces to dialogue about racism. And we must respect, support and listen to Indigenous people as they make their voices heard.
Everyone can make a difference.