Six Nations watching murder trial

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill (Brian Thompson/Expositor file photo)

Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill (Brian Thompson/Expositor file photo)

OHSWEKEN - Six Nations elected council is watching closely the second-degree murder trial of a Hamilton man accused in the shooting death of a Six Nations man.

Elected Chief Ava Hill said Monday that Six Nations doesn't want a repeat of mistakes made in the Colten Boushie case that saw Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley aquitted by an all-white jury in the shooting death of 22-year-old Boushie from Red Pheasant First Nations.

Hill and other Six Nations representatives were at the Hamilton court on Monday for the start of jury selection.

Peter Khill is charged in the death of Jon Styres, a 29-year-old father of two. The Crown alleges Khill, a millwright and former reservist, shot and killed Styres at about 3 a.m. in February 2016 when confronting a man who appeared to be stealing his truck.

"It is very important that we watch this case," she said.

"Everybody is watching this because comparisons to the Boushie case are already being made," said Hill.

"The trial will go on for weeks. I will try to go when I can."

There are longstanding concerns that the jury system is unfair to Indigenous people, Six Nations elected council said in a statement issued Monday.

"The jury acquitted Gerald Stanley of the murder of Colten Boushie was void of any visibly Indigenous people, in part because the defence prevented any Indigenous-looking people from being included in the jury," the statement said.

In the wake of the Boushie case, the Six Nations council called for an overhaul of the justice system and a national strategy to address racism in Canada. Comments on social media since the killing of Styres reveal the presence of racism locally, the statement says.

"Peaceful co-existence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples requires a justice process that is non-discriminatory and fair," said Hill. "Justice is necessary if there is to be any hope for reconciliation.

"Each failure of the justice system ... represents how 150 years of colonization continue to translate into racism, injustice and tragedy for Indigenous peoples."

Staff of the Six Nations justice department's Indigenous Victim Services, along with the Hamilton-based Victim-Witness Assistance Program, will attend the trial to provide assistance.


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