The University of Guelph community is saddened by the recent verdict in the Colten Boushie case and joins universities in reaffirming their commitment to supporting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, says president Franco Vaccarino.

Referring to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer who admitted to shooting and killing Boushie, a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, Vaccarino said, “My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Colten Boushie, and to the many Indigenous communities across Canada. The recent trial and verdict is an example of how more work needs to be done.”

Cara Wehkamp, special adviser to the provost on Aboriginal initiatives, said, “The outcome of the verdict and the following discourse gives a measure of the state of reconciliation in Canada and demonstrates the truth that there is still a need to address numerous societal and systemic barriers that impact the lives of First Nations communities.”

Vaccarino said U of G endorses a statement about the case issued this week by Universities Canada, the national organization representing 96 institutions including the University of Guelph.

“The University community is constantly mindful of the important connection to the land where we learn and work,” he said, adding that U of G takes pride in its relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and is committed to furthering its relationships with them.

Vaccarino said the University is “a place where faculty, staff and students are committed to continuing to build a diverse and inclusive community and dedicated to enhancing support for Indigenous communities.”

The Universities Canada statement reads as follows:

“As Canadian society grapples with the ongoing reality of racism and the challenges of reconciliation, Canada’s universities reaffirm our commitment to fostering a renewed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, by examining and changing our own institutional approaches, policies, practices and structures. Universities across Canada made this public commitment in 2015 to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, and recent events have underscored the need for the higher education sector to redouble its efforts.

“As public institutions of learning, discovery and community service that deeply value dialogue, debate and cross-cultural exchange, Canada’s universities are committed to a leadership role in advancing reconciliation in Canada.”

The University encourages First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, staff and faculty to seek support as they need it. Support services and initiatives are available for all students, faculty and staff, including:

  • Employee assistance program for faculty and staff 1-800-265-8310
  • Student Counselling Services, Ext. 53244
  • Aboriginal Student Adviser, Ext. 52189