The director of an Indigenous education conference announced this week that his organization will be donating $25,000 to a scholarship fund to honour the late Colten Boushie.
“We wanted to do it to highlight how amazing our relative Colten was… rather than focusing on the tragedy that happened,” said Chris Scribe.
Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, was shot and killed in August 2016 by farmer Gerald Stanley. Stanley was charged with second-degree murder but was found not guilty by a jury in February 2018.
Scribe is the director and founder of Think Indigenous, a conference that brings together Indigenous educators from across western Canada. This year’s conference is taking place in Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton March 11-13.
It started in 2015 and has become a place for Indigenous educators to share ideas, best practices and to hear from others doing innovative education work.
“They’re bringing truth. They’re bringing insight, motivation and some powerful decolonial thinking around Indigenous education,” said Scribe.
Scribe is also the director of the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“This year we wanted to figure out a way that we can give back to youth with any kind of surplus, because Think Indigenous is a not for profit,” said Scribe.
“100 per cent of whatever profits we get as a result of this conference goes back to support Indigenous initiatives.”
The plan is to distribute the $25,000 among the schools who attended the conference. The schools will then decide among themselves who will get awards.
Scribe said the awards will go to students who have demonstrated academic excellence as well as social justice.
‘A beautiful tribute’
This year’s keynote speaker was Tasha Hubbard. Her film nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, which is about Colten Boushie’s shooting and his family’s fight for justice, was screened at the conference.
“[We’re] honouring the memory of Colten Boushie and also the family and all of the work that they’re doing to address the issues with the colonial justice system in the state of Canada,” said Scribe.
Scribe said he reached out to the family of Boushie for approval before moving ahead with the scholarships.
“I think it’s a beautiful tribute to my late brother,” said Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s first cousin.
“There are youth around his age that are pursuing their goals, their aspirations. They’re going to be taking on various challenges but ultimately they’re going into places and spaces that maybe they’re just not comfortable or are unsure of.
“Knowing that there’s a support like this, that’s going to lift them up and encourage them.”
Tootoosis said she is proud of the organizers of Think Indigenous, adding that the conference is not funded by any energy or resource extraction companies.
The conference wraps up on Friday.