(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the below statement following the not-guilty verdict in the trial of Peter Khill, who was charged with the second-degree murder of John Styres from Oshweken, Ontario.
“The family of Jon Styres is top of mind today. We see once again that Canada has a legal system, but not a justice system. This is the third trial verdict this year that tells First Nations that our lives do not matter, along with 30 years of documented systemic discrimination and racism in the Canadian justice system. It also sends a troubling signal to Canadians that they will not face consequences for acts of violence they commit on First Nation individuals.
The treatment of First Nations in the justice system stands in stark contrast to other Canadians. First Nations are over-represented in the criminal justice system as offenders, yet their contributions to juries are not sought or welcomed. Our youth are incarcerated at appalling rates because of unfair treatment by the legal system. Justice in this country demands action now to address long-standing problems, end discriminative practices, ensure First Nations representation on juries and institute restorative justice. It’s time for all of us to stand up and say ‘First Nations lives matter’.”
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.