The man charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie has been committed to stand trial.
Gerald Stanley is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 9, 2016, death of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, Sask., man in his Biggar farmyard. He has pleaded not guilty.
Following a preliminary hearing, Judge Bruce Bauer decided Thursday in North Battleford provincial court that there was enough evidence to send Stanley to trial.
No trial date has been set.
The case has drawn national attention to race relations in the province.
According to police, Boushie was in a car with four other people when he was shot on Stanley's rural property. The RCMP was accused of showing bias in its initial media release issued about the shooting. Social media exploded with rumours and posts that wished violence on Boushie's friends and Indigenous people in general.
Recently, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities voted nearly unanimously to lobby the federal government for more latitude for people to defend themselves and their property. The motion drew condemnation from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and brought out protesters earlier this week in Regina.
After the judge's decision Thursday, Boushie's family and friends filed out of court, many of them chanting "justice for Colten" and "thou shalt not kill."
Boushie's cousin, Jade Tootoosis, said the family is pleased the case is reaching the next step.
"I'm pretty sure my brother's looking down happy," added William Boushie.
Stanley's lawyer declined to comment to reporters.
Hearing attracts rally
Earlier Thursday morning, a crowd of nearly 100 people carrying placards reading "Justice for Colten" and "Native Lives Matter!" gathered outside the courthouse. A drum group and singers flanked Tootoosis and Boushie's mother, Debbie Baptiste.
"We lost our Colten," Tootoosis said as Baptiste clutched a photo of her son and looked skyward.
Red Pheasant Chief Clint Wuttunee said there are many good people in rural Saskatchewan, but the case shows how much racism still exists in the province.
"It's very emotional," Wuttunee said.
Stanley and his lawyer, Scott Spencer, walked through the crowd unescorted into the front doors of the courthouse.
In January, Spencer told CBC Radio's Out in the Open: "From the defence perspective, our biggest concern is that Gerald gets a fair trial."
His statement went on to say that people are making false statements that "risk compromising the legal process."
"I believe that media attention to this matter could compromise Gerald's right to a fair trial and I encourage everyone to reserve judgment until they know the facts so that they can make a fair and intelligent comment."
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief Heather Bear called Spencer's concerns about a fair trial "ridiculous." She said First Nations people have a right to call for justice and to name injustice when they see it.
"We're not going away," Bear told reporters.
North Battleford resident Ken Sanders said he's not sure the truth will ever come out. He said it's unfortunate to see the racial divide in the city appears to be growing.
The contents of preliminary hearings are subject to publication bans.