What is reconciliation: the burden of proof

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What is reconciliation: the burden of proof

Seems like everybody thinks they should get special treatment nowadays. Immigrants think they should be able to keep their religion and speaking all these different languages – French is already bad enough. Everybody wants have their cake and eat it too. I mean, who doesn’t want that? And young people these days? They don’t even seem to know if they’re male or female. And they expect to get everything without working for it. It’s the same thing with the Natives. They want to bulldoze peoples’ homes so they can make their reserves bigger. What with their houses falling apart and not one of them willing lift a hammer to fix anything. Why don’t they have to pay taxes like everyone else? Instead, they have healing circles for criminals. Why should Natives get sentenced to a healing circle? Wouldn’t we all like to get off that easy? Those drunk kids who over-ran that hard-working farmer’s land and threatened his family probably think they’ll get a healing circle. So one of them gets shot. What do they expect? You can’t go breaking into private property. They act like the land belongs to them. Like we should take down all the fences. Change the laws and have different ones for Natives. Give them a free ride. There is one set of laws, one set of rules. They apply to everyone.


At the trial for the boy who was shot, everyone obeyed one set of laws. They all laboured under the burden of proof – some hoping for evidence strong enough to withstand the burden, and others hoping for collapse. Hard evidence, not only testimony, was presented. The Tokarev pistol, a relic of the cold war, capable of piercing body armour. Photos of blood spilling out of a pickup truck. Images of a boy from Red Pheasant First Nation shot in the head. And then testimony: a defendant admitting to shooting the young man, Colten Boushie, but by accident, a freak accident. Despite hard evidence–difficult pictures of blood, the cold steel pistol—the facts did not withstand the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt. They were presented to a jury of 12 Canadians, each of them carrying the weight of their own histories and responsibilities, each able to see only so far – the world obscured by assumptions and blind spots, gaps in knowledge. Asked to pass judgement based on certain facts alone, to choose only one of three possibilities: second-degree murder, manslaughter, not guilty. Gerald Stanley, the farmer, the shooter, was acquitted and walks free. Colten Boushie, the boy who trespassed, is dead and buried. One set of laws, one set of rules that apply to everyone.

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