March 2, 2018
The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Council sends our deepest condolences to the families of Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie. Tina Fontaine (January 1, 1999 – c. August 10, 2014), a 15-year-old Indigenous girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation, was found wrapped in a weighted-down duvet after having been murdered and dumped in the Red River. Raymond Cormier was charged with her murder. Colten Boushie (October 31, 1993 – August 9, 2016), a 22-year-old Indigenous man from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was shot by Gerald Stanley. In February 2018, both accused were acquitted of all charges and found not guilty in two separate trials. The verdicts continue a legacy of unjust treatment against Indigenous peoples amid colonial structures and institutions in what is currently Canada.
As a professional association of scholars and educators, activists, knowledge holders, and community members, NAISA is committed to opposing systemic racism and violence and exposing miscarriages of justice against Indigenous people through our interdisciplinary pedagogies. We send strength and support to the Boushie/Baptiste and Fontaine families, as well as to our colleagues, students, and elders in residence who confront and combat anti-Indigenous sentiments in and outside of the institutions where we work. We support the Open Letter to Universities Canada that calls upon universities to ensure that Indigenous students, faculty, and staff are safe and commit to anti-racist professional development as part of everyone’s responsibility. The ongoing violence against Indigenous people that these cases represent is intolerable and cannot be condoned. The verdicts in these cases reflect a legal and structural cynicism that counteracts any possibility of a better future. NAISA Council rejects this perspective and calls for justice for Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.