Regina rally raises safety concerns about SARM's self-defence resolution

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Regina rally raises safety concerns about SARM's self-defence resolution

Regina rally raises safety concerns about SARM's self-defence resolution

Protesters in Regina carried signs with slogans like "farmers against racism" and "hey SARM, unarm" at a Monday rally against efforts by rural municipalities to expand self-defence laws.

Last month, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities passed a resolution that argued rural residents do not have the rights they need to protect themselves or their property.

The move came just seven months after the death of Colten Boushie, a passenger in a car with four other people who was shot and killed on Aug. 9 on a farm near Biggar, Sask.

Monday's rally was held on the first day of the preliminary hearing in the case against Gerald Stanley, the man charged with second-degree murder after Boushie's death.

Rally also show of support for Boushie 

Although rally organizer Dodie Ferguson said it was "serendipity" that the rally fell on the same day as the hearing, the gathering was also a show of support for Boushie's family and friends.

She said the SARM concerns about increasing rural property crime were unfounded.

"If they could provide me with documentation, or provide the general public with documentation that supports the resolution, then I would respectfully accept it," said Ferguson.

"But as it sits right now I am forced to just draw my own conclusions."

Safety concerns

Lionel Story, a councillor in the RM of Kindersley, where the SARM resolution originated, said in March it was not inspired by the shooting death of Boushie, but that it highlights concerns about crime among Saskatchewan residents.

Ferguson, who lives in Regina but grew up in a First Nation community, said the resolution makes her fearful about her children's safety when they travel to visit her parents.

She said times have changed since she was a child in a rural area, when she would have sought help from a nearby farmyard if she had car trouble.

'My parents are worried for our children'

Instead, she tells her children they should sit in their cars and use cellphones to seek help.

"If you look at any rural yard you see that big, bright light shining," she said.  

"In the past that was a beacon for help. If you needed assistance, you know where to go.

"In this day and age, my parents are worried for our children."

Provincial Justice Minister Gordon Wyant has already opposed the SARM resolution, saying the solution was policing and community programming.