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As a lone Indigenous journalist covering the story, I saw him as a relative.

Ntawnis Piapot

Feb 23 2018, 1:20pm Photo via the author

A version of this story first appeared on J-Source.

“And when they ask, ‘Is that your relative?’ I will say, ‘Yes.’” —Sarah Rain, friend and relative

I remember the day Colten Boushie died. It was a hot summer day in Regina, Saskatchewan and I had enjoyed a leisurely summer, free of journalism work. I had decided to take a year off from reporting after my mother and sister died. I couldn’t cover the violence of our people without seeing my mother and sister in each story I did. But hearing the details of a young Indigenous man being shot by a farmer seemed too bad to be true. I felt urgency run through my body.


VICE assigned me to cover Colten’s death . I rose out of my self-inflicted journalism slumber and went to the press conference.

Sitting with the other reporters, I noticed I was the only Indigenous reporter there. All the other reporters talked and laughed together waiting for the news conference to start. I couldn’t bring myself to laugh at a moment like that. It’s not their fault though. We come from different worlds. In my culture, we view and treat each other as relatives. Colten wasn’t some faraway person whom I felt no connection to in that moment. He could have easily been my 18-year-old brother. As relatives, we pray for each other and we end each prayer by saying: “All my relations.” We mean that.

In that press room no one talked to me. I asked questions. I wrote the story and made my deadline.

The Gerald Stanley Verdict Shows There’s No Justice for Indigenous Peoples

Colten Boushie was shot dead on a Saskatchewan farm. An all-white jury decided the man that killed him did no wrong.

Vice / Ryan McMahon / February 10, 2018

But Colten stayed with me. Like other Indigenous stories I’ve covered over the years, many people stay with me. Their stories make me proud. Some haunt me and I often wonder how they are doing, or if they felt justice. But most of all, I wonder if they found peace, and I hope I made a difference in their lives by sharing their story with the world.

A few weeks later I moved away from the Prairies and attempted to live in Vancouver for grad school. Like many times before, I left my homelands in search of “something better.”

Ever since I was a little girl, around 11 years old, I wanted to leave Saskatchewan. I wanted to find a place where I wasn’t called a “dirty little Indian” or “a squaw” as a young child, and have white men try to grope me too many times to count in broad daylight.AdvertisementSo I left the racism of the Prairies behind, along with the hard looks from strangers who think the worst of my people—now more than ever after Gerald Stanley’s trial.I returned almost immediately. I came back to wide open blue skies, my relatives, and the reserve the Canadian government forced my chapan (great-great grandfather) onto. I came back to the snickering, the racial profiling in stores, and drunk settler women asking me if it was “family allowance or Treaty Day” in the washroom of my favorite restaurant—because it was a Friday night, and how else would I have money to be in a nice place like that?I deserve to be educated, raise a family, and live prosperously in my homelands, free of hate, racism, sexism and stigma. […]

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