Brandon Giffen, who is the second man to be convicted in the death of Kristian Ayoungman, has been sentenced.
He will serve another six and a half years in prison and was handed a lifetime firearms ban during his sentencing on July 19, after he was found guilty of manslaughter.
Giffen was originally sentenced to 12 years, but the judge reduced the sentence by six months due to cruel conditions within the remand centre. He was also granted 60 months credit for time served.
Giffen, and his brother Kody Giffen, were originally charged with first-degree murder in Ayoungman’s death.
Kody was sentenced on March 16, 2021 to four years in prison, following a plea of manslaughter in August 2020.
Ayoungman, then 24, was fatally shot on the night of March 17, 2019, while he was inside of a vehicle, following an altercation outside the King Eddy Pub in Strathmore.
Melodie Ayoungman-Hunt, Kristian’s mother, said the family is feeling “a sense of lift” now that court proceedings have concluded.
“Now we can move forward and continue forward on our healing journey,” she said. “I think a sense of closure will be for the guy who took my son’s life, to admit to his own wrong — to admit to his own guilt. I think that would bring some closure.”
Ayoungman-Hunt has orchestrated memorials for her son since his death. Next year will be fourth memorial, with four being a number of cultural significance. She is working with the Town of Strathmore and Siksika Nation to host a powwow in her son’s name.
Although the fourth memorial will be the last memorial that Ayoungman-Hunt will host in her son’s name, she said her family’s healing journey does not stop there.
“After the fourth year, the memorials will be done, but with that being said, our family has decided to continue forward with a Kristian Ayoungman Foundation in support of First Nations,” said Ayoungman-Hunt. “The way my boy’s life was taken, it was wrong, and we want to make sure that things continue forward in a good way and our hope is that people learn from this.”
In the aftermath of Ayoungman’s death, Ayoungman-Hunt said she has seen noticeable improvements in the relationship between Siksika Nation and the Town of Strathmore.
Actions from the Town as part of the healing process include a memorial site dedicated to Kristian Ayoungman, situated adjacent to Town municipal building.
Ayoungman-Hunt added she feels her family and her son were excellently represented in court during the years of proceedings.
“I think my boy had the best representation by the Crown. (Our lawyers) fought long and hard, they did their research, and they did their best,” said Ayoungman-Hunt, who hopes people will continue to learn from her son and take away lessons to be better to each other and eliminate racism.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times