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Premier Kathleen Wynne listens to traditional knowledge keeper Rob Spade at the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Circle at Laurentian University on Monday. Wynne visited Laurentian University and participated in a town hall discussion with students. Gino Donato/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

Ontario’s premier told Laurentian University students Monday that Canada must "do better" to ensure Indigenous people are treated fairly by the justice system.

Standing inside Laurentian University’s Indigenous Sharing and Learning Circle, Premier Kathleen Wynne was asked about the controversial Colten Boushie case in Saskatchewan. Last week, an all-white jury cleared white farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder in Boushie’s shooting death.

Stanley claimed Boushie and three other men came onto his farm on Aug. 9, 2016 and attempted to steal an all-terrain vehicle, so he brandished a gun to scare them off.

He said the gun accidentally went off, however, killing Boushie, 22, who is of Cree background, with a bullet to the head.

The defence team challenged all possible jurors who were visibly Indigenous during jury selection. The jury’s not-guilty verdict has outraged First Nation communities across Canada.

Although the case was heard in Saskatchewan, Wynne said changes have to be made to the justice system that take into account Indigenous concerns and to "find ways to do better" for them.

Wynne said jury representation — getting more Indigenous representation on juries — is one area that her government wants to see addressed.

"We are in the process of finding a way to change that," she said.

Wynne said the Boushie court case is an example of the unresolved relationship between Canadian First Nation people and mainstream Canadian society. She said mainstream society is still coming to grips with its history and how First Nation people have been treated. The premier said her government and her cabinet are working "to find ways to do better."

There were a few Justice for Colten signs visible in the town hall audience.

Wynne was in Sudbury as part of a tour of post-secondary schools in Ontario. In addition to the town hall at Laurentian, she toured College Boreal and Cambrian College in Sudbury. The three stops were part of Wynne’s annual tour of post-secondary institutions across Ontario. This year’s four-day tour includes visits to post-secondary institutions in Kingston, Cambridge, Windsor and throughout Toronto.

About 100 students, faculty and other people packed the centre for the town hall at Laurentian, which included an address by Rob Spade (Heaven Man), an Ojibway teacher, as well as a memorial drum song.

Spade, a member of the Sturgeon clan, reminded Indigenous students who attended the town hall that "we are still here. We are part of Mother Earth. We will always be here. My dad told us we have our culture, so you will have yours … If I don’t have any connection to my ancestors of 10,000 years ago, you have been assimilated."

Spade also told the audience it’s important for all people, wherever they come from, to be in touch with the teachings of their culture.

"If you want to be connected to your community, it’s going to take all your focus, all your time," he explained. "You are going to find out you are an individual. You are going to be strong. You just think like you and nobody else."Laurentian’s acting president, Pierre Zundel, said LU is the only tripartite university — English, French and Indigenous — in the province. He said the outcome of the Boushie case angered Indigenous people across Canada and that these are difficult times for them.At the same time, Zundel said Laurentian’s new Indigenous Learning Centre was "built as a tangible sign" to create a home for Indigenous students on […]

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