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Justice for Barbara Kentner: Statement on the sentencing of Brayden Bushby

Canadian PoliticsIndigenous PoliticsHuman Rights

A billboard put up in the city of Thunder Bay calling for justice for Barbara Kentner. Image by Canadian Dimension.

The following statement is an act of solidarity. It originated with faculty members in the Department of Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University but has grown to include the academic community from across Turtle Island. We stand with the family of Barbara Kentner, the Anishinaabe community, and Indigenous women in the pursuit of justice and ending violence against Indigenous women and their communities.

Click here to add your name to the statement of solidarity.

For questions and inquiries please contact:

Dr. Kristin Burnett or Dr. Max Haiven


Statement in Solidarity with the Kentner Family

The undersigned are responding to the decision of Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen M. Pierce to find Brayden Bushby guilty of manslaughter in the death of Barbara Kentner and stand in solidarity with Barbara Kentner’s family and Thunder Bay’s Indigenous community, at this time of horror and sadness.

On January 29, 2017, Barbara Kentner, an Indigenous woman from the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, was struck in the abdomen by a trailer hitch thrown from a passing car. Her bowel was ruptured and she died from these injuries five months later on July 4. The trailer hitch was thrown by Brayden Bushby, an 18-year-old white male. One of the people in the car with him that night testified that Bushby laughed about it at the time, saying “got one!”

After years of delay, the charges against Bushby were reduced from second degree murder to manslaughter. Subsequently, Bushby pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and in doing so he admitted to throwing the trailer hitch. The three other individuals in that car were not charged.

This incident was not the result of ‘boys being boys’ or what the defense team described as being “rowdy.” Nor did the incident occur in isolation. Instead, it occurred within the context of white supremacy and violence that runs through the very roots of our society. This was not the first time an Indigenous woman has had something thrown at them in Thunder Bay. In other incidents there has been little to no consequence.

Reducing the charges sparked outrage from the Indigenous community, yielding yet another chapter of the ongoing colonial narrative in which Indigenous women are devalued and dehumanized. As Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare commented, “the Canadian justice system does not see Indigenous women as someone’s daughter, mother, wife, sister, and barely as a victim of a crime.” But Barbara was someone’s mother. She was also a sister, a cousin, an aunty, and a kind and generous person. Yet, even if she was none of these things, she did not deserve what happened to her.

Bushby and his defense team argued differently, namely that Barbara caused her own death, drawing on pernicious and racist stereotypes in the process. They denigrated the victim with impunity, suggesting that her life was not worth living or that she would have died anyway. “This defense is similar to the ‘crumbling skull’ argument (the victim was prone to die, therefore the murderer might not have actually killed them) also used by the Canadian government and churches in court to try and deflect blame for the harms of residential schools, arguing that Indigenous child inmates were already suffering abuse and neglect before their incarceration.” It is a deeply flawed justice system where the victim is placed on trial for their own murder.

While Justice Helen M. Pierce found the defense’s arguments invalid, issuing Brayden Bushby a guilty verdict of manslaughter, until it is acknowledged that this act of violence took place within the context of white supremacy and settler colonialism, we will continue to fear for all Indigenous women in the community.

Bushby’s sentencing hearing will commence on February 9, 2021. We hope that on this day the denial of the insidious racism that permeates our legal structures, our institutions, and the City of Thunder Bay stops and Justice Pierce responds to the entirety of the situation. That on February 9 the court pay heed to the family of Barbara Kenter, the Indigenous community, as well as calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for tougher sentencing for perpetrators of violence against Indigenous women and the right of Indigenous peoples to live in freedom, peace, and security as distinct peoples without being subject to genocide or any other act of violence.

Unless decisive action is taken, white supremacy and gender based violence will continue to steal the lives of Indigenous women prematurely. The court has the opportunity to show Indigenous women and girls that their lives matter. We urge the court not to send the message that Indigenous women are not worthy of the same basic protections as other citizens, further jeopardizing the safety of Indigenous women in the City of Thunder Bay. Bushby, those like him, and those in the making will also hear this message, whatever it may be.

Demonstration in Thunder Bay to support Barbara Kentner’s family on the eve of the verdict for Brayden Bushby’s manslaughter trial. Photo courtesy of Jon Thompson/Twitter.

Signatories

Dr. Catherine Cervin Vice Dean Academic Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO, Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Dr. Betsy Birmingham, Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lakehead University
Dr. Kristin Burnett, Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University
Dr. Lana Ray, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University
Dr. Barbara Parker, Associate Professor, Sociology, Lakehead University
Dr. Toby Rollo, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Lakehead University
Ms. Lisa Harris, Coordinator Niijii Indigenous Mentorship, Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead University
Dr. Anita Vaillancourt, Assistant Professor, Social Work, Lakehead University
Dr. Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University
Dr. Travis Hay, Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University
Dr. Rebecca Schiff, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University
Dr. Lindsay Galway, Canada Research Chair in Social-Ecological Health, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University
Dr. Anna Guttman, Professor, English, Lakehead University
Dr. Robert Robson, Associate Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University
Dr. Anna Kone, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University
Dr. Judith Leggatt, Associate Professor, English, Lakehead University
Andrew Heppner, Project Coordinator, Lakehead University
Dr. Billie Allan, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Dr. Gina Starblanket, Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Decolonization, Political Science, University of Calgary
Dr. Dallas Hunt, Assistant Professor, English Language and Literatures, University of British Columbia
Dr. Rhonda Hackett, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Dr. Cindy Holmes, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Ms. Jerri-Lynn Orr, Indigenous Curriculum Specialist, Teaching Commons, Lakehead University
Dr. Sarah Hunt / Tłaliłila’ogwa, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Political Ecology, Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Dr. Karena Shaw, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Dr. Sandrina de Finney, Associate Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria
Dr. Sarah Wright Cardinal, Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria
Dr. Esyllt W. Jones, Professor, Dean of Studies, St John’s College, University of Manitoba
Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson, Manager of Community Outreach, West Coast LEAF
Jana-Rae Yerxa, Faculty, Anishinaabe Gikendaasowin, Seven Generations Education Institute
Dr. Ian Mosby, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Ryerson University
Dr. Damien Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University
Ms. Tabitha Robin, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
Ms. Trudy Russo, Librarian, Lakehead University
Dr. Connie Russell, Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Greg Bak, Associate Professor, History, University of Manitoba
Dr. Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University
Dr. Sheila McManus, Professor, Department of History, University of Lethbridge
Dr. Paul Cormier, Associate Professor & Chair, Aboriginal Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Tricia McGuire-Adams, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Ganandawisiwin/Good Health Sovereignties, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa
Dr. Mary Jane McCallum, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous People, History and Archives, Department of History, University of Winnipeg
Dr. Whitney Wood, Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health, Vancouver Island University
Dr. Kevin Brooks, Social Justice Studies Program Advisor, Lakehead University
Dr. Michael Asmussen, Canada Research Chair in Neuromechanics and Human Physiology, Mount Royal University
Dr. James Muir, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta, and Associate Professor of Law and History, University of Alberta
Natalie St-Denis, MSW, RSW, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, and sessional instructor at Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary
Dr. Martha Moon, Contract Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Jennifer Pettit, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Mount Royal University
Sarina Piercy, Research Coordinator to Dr. Billie Allan, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Dr. Robert Mawhinney, Professor, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Sean Carleton, Assistant Professor, Departments of History and Native Studies, University of Manitoba
Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Classics, & Religious Studies and the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta
Leanne Kelly, Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria
Tom Potter, Professor, School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University
Dr. Jeff Corntassel, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of Victoria
Dr. Kristine Alexander, Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies & Associate Professor of History, University of Lethbridge
Dr. Rachel Warburton, Associate Professor, English, Lakehead University
Taina Maki Chahal, Contract Lecturer, English and Anthropology, Lakehead University
Shane Young, PhD Candidate (Trent), Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Ryerson University
James Aldridge, Vice-Provost (International), Lakehead University
Dr. Todd Randall, Dean, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Laurie Harding, Adjunct Professor, School of Children Youth Care, University of Victoria
Denise Baxter, Vice Provost (Indigenous Initiatives), Lakehead University
Dr. Adele Perry, FRSC, Distinguished Professor and Director, Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba
Dr. Shirley Chau, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, UBC Okanagan
Dr. Jaymie Heilman, Professor, Department of History, Classics, and Religious Studies, University of Alberta
Dr. Annie Pullen Sansfacon, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Montreal
Sheryl O’Reilly, Indigenous Student Counsellor, Indigenous Student Services Centre, Lakehead University
Élaine Doiron, Administrative Assistant, Department of Indigenous Learning
Ms S. Monague, Indigenous Support Worker, Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Dr. Thomas Peace, Associate Professor, Department of History, Huron University College
Dr. Jessica Jurgutis, Assistant Professor, Departments of Indigenous Learning and Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Caroline Durand, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Trent University
Dr. Patricia D. McGuire, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Carleton University
Dr. Jen Chisholm, Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Hugo De Burgos, Associate Professor of teaching, Medical Anthropology, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Dr. Nancy Janovicek, Associate Professor, History, University of Calgary
Dr. Megan Scribe, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University
Ms B Bissell, Contract Lecturer, Department of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. David Richards, Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, Lakehead University
Yolanda Wanakamik, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Director of Indigenous Affairs
Dr. Sarah Nickel, Associate Professor, Department of History, Classics, and Religious Studies, University of Alberta
Dr. Lori Chambers, Professor, Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Michel Bédard, Dean, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Lakehead University
Dr. Liza Piper, Associate Professor, History, University of Alberta
Anna Chief, Coordinator of Indigneous Outreach/Recruitment, Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead University
Michael Yellow Bird, Dean, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
Christina Chakanyuka, Assistant Professor & PhD Student, School of Nursing, University of Victoria
Dr. Lisa Bourque Bearskin, Associate Professor Thompson Rivers University. Kamloops British Columbia
Dr. Lise Vaugeois, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Kurt Markstrom, Senior Scholar, Desautel Faculty of Music, University of Manitoba
Darryl Harsch, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, CHN, University of Victoria Alumni
Jill Greenwood, Instructor and Faculty Advisor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Associate Professor and Director, Indigenous Studies Program, University of Victoria
Dr. Jarvis Brownlie, Professor, Department of History, University of Manitoba
Dr. Melanee Thomas, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary
Dr. Shannon Stettner, Instructor, Department of Gender and Social Justice, University of Waterloo
Alana Prochuk, Manager of Public Legal Education, West Coast LEAF
Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, Canada Research Chair (Humanities and Health Inequities), Northern Medical Program, UNBC, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
Kate Feeney, Director of Litigation, West Coast LEAF
Bronwen Besso-Smith, BSW
Dr. Lynn Lavallee, Professor, Strategic Lead Indigenous Resurgence, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University
Victoria Chen, Office Manager, West Coast LEAF
Lorelei Williams, Founder of Butterflies in Spirit, Research Assistant at Sovereign Bodies Institute, MMIWG advocate involved with the MMIWG Coalition and West Coast Leaf
Dr. Julia Smith, Assistant Professor, Labour Studies Program, University of Manitoba
Dr. Nadia Verrelli, Associate Professor, Political Science, Laurentian University
Dr. James Rowe, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
Dr. Carol Williams, Professor of Women and Gender Studies and History, Director of the Centre for Oral History and Tradition, University of Lethbridge, Alberta
Dr. Suzanne Lenon, Associate Professor, Department of Women & Gender Studies, University of Lethbridge, Alberta
Dr. Judy Davidson, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Michael Mihalicz, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Advisor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
Dr. Andrea Eidinger, Sessional Instructor, Concordia University
Jennifer Ward, PhD Student, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta; Assistant Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta
Dr. Joe Carney, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Lakehead University
Dr. Lila Pine, Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University
Walid Chahal, Continuing Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University
Dr. Margo Tamez, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus
Catherine Carstairs, Professor, History, University of Guelph
Josh Levac, Associate Registrar Student Awards and Financial Aid, Lakehead University
Nehi’ Patrick Igbinijesu, Graduate Student, Social Justice Studies, Lakehead University
Jennifer Stienke, Graduate Student, Social Justice Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Antony Puddephatt, Professor of Sociology, Lakehead University
Dr. Steven Jobbitt, Associate Professor of History, Lakehead University
Tenille E. Brown, Assistant Professor of Law, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University
Angela Gollat, Graduate Student, Social Justice Studies/Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Dr. Radhika Desai, Professor, Political Studies, University of Manitoba
Jelena Psenicnik, Business Owner
Stacey Hare Hodgins, Graduate Student, Social Justice Studies/Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Ashley Walter, Graduate Student, Student, Social Justice Studies/Women’s Studies, Lakehead University
Kim Ducharme, Professor, Confederation College/Lakehead University
Katie Bortolin, Program Manager, Beendigen Anishinabe Women’s Crisis Home & Family Healing Agency
Crystal Hardy Zongwe Binesikwe, NP-PHC, PhD Nursing Candidate, Queen’s University
Sandra McEwing, Project Support Coordinator, Hatch Engineering
David Bertin, CET, CS Engineering Ltd.
Dr. John Ryan, Retired Professor of Geography and Senior Scholar, University of Winnipeg
Florence Stratton, Community Activist, Regina
Anthony Chadwick, Retired professor of French, Memorial University, St John’s, NL
Julie Michaud, Retired Librarian, Community activist, New Westminster, BC
Kyle Blazejewski, Factory worker, Barrie Ontario
Sarah Brown, physiotherapist, St Joseph’s Care Group, Thunder Bay
Dianne Dowling, Kingston area, Ontario
Isobel Or
Greg Albo, professor of political economy, York University
Cymry Gomery, activist and writer, Montréal, Québec
Dr. Leigh Potvin, Assistant Professor and Director of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University
Dr. Rachel Berger, Associate Professor of History, Concordia University
Logan Liut, Étudiant, Saint Michael’s Choir School, Toronto
Dr. Paul Berger, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University
Dr. Tia Cooney, RN, DNP, Professor, Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Confederation College
Sheila Delany, Professor Emerita,English, SFU
Allan Crawshaw, Victoria, B.C. unceded territory of Songhees and Esquimalt in solidarity
Errol Sharpe, Boutilier’s Point NS unceded Mi’Kmaq territory, Fernwood Publishing
Wanimiikii Bimise / Eureka / Erica J. Radford, Two-Spirit Anishnaabe Student of Lakehead University, Child & Vulnerable Advocate & Indigenous Sovereignty Activist
Jennifer Stienke, Graduate Student, Social Justice Studies, Lakehead University
Tenille E. Brown, Assistant Professor of Law, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University
Dionicio Barrales Leal, Edmonton, Alberta
Carol Andrews, Graduate Student, Canadian & Indigenous Studies, Trent University
Jean-Paul Bourque, Retired Independent Research in Ecology_Moncton, New Brunswick
Dr. PhebeAnn Wolframe-Smith, Program Consultant, Equity, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Bryant Brown, Retired author of An Insiders Memoir
Dr. Lloy Wylie, Schuich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University
Dr. Ruth Beatty, Associate Professor, Lakehead University
Dr. Michelle Peek, Executive Director, Art Not Shame
Dr. Gregory S Kealey, Emeritus Professor, University of New Brunswick
Dr. Linda Kealey, Professor Emerita, UNB
Dimitri Lascaris, Lawyer, activist and journalist
Caitlin Barker, Law Clerk, Toronto
Dr. Liane Tanguay, Associate Professor of English, University of Houston-Victoria
Dr. Jennifer Jarman, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, Department, Lakehead University
Dr. Malissa Phung, Professor, School of Communications and Literary Studies, Sheridan College
Alana Forslund, Community artist, Thunder Bay
Kristen Kowlessar, PhD Candidate, Carleton University
Alex Millaire, Musician, Moonfruits, Ottawa
Kaitlin Milroy, Musician, Moonfruits, Ottawa
Dr. Alicia Kerfoot, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Brockport
Dr. Michelle Peek, Executive Director, Art Not Shame
Phil Henderson, PhD (Candidate), Political Science, University of Victoria
Kasim Husain, PhD, Instructor of English and Coordinated Arts, UBC
Pauline Sameshima, Professor, Canada Research Chair, Lakehead University
Lorraine York, Distinguished University Professor, McMaster University
Neal Kretchmar, retired, Nelson, British Columbia
Sarah Brophy, Professor, McMaster University
Danielle Landry, PhD Candidate, Sociology, York University
Dr. Benjamin Roebuck, Research Chair and Professor of Victimology, Algonquin College
Dr. Tamara Maiuri, Research Associate, McMaster University
Dr. David Mandel, Professeur associé, Political Science, Université du Québec à Montréal
Ms. Rebecca Staines, self-employed, Fort Assiniboine, Alberta
Chaw-win-is, Nuu-chah-nulth-aht, instructor University of Victoria, PhD student
Dr. Ian Gallimore, Family Physician, Toronto
B. Ann Vickers, Citizen, New Brunswick
Jake Stott, Social Justice Co-Conspirator, Dundas, Ontario
Frank Bedek, Citizen, Toronto, Ontario
Lois Little, citizen, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Barbara Benwell, Professor, Confederation College
Roy Trickey, citizen, Kenabeek, Ontario
Dr. Olga Stein, Toronto, Ontario
Kristine Kjeldsen, citizen, Toronto, Ontario
Dr. Paul Huebener, Associate Professor, Athabasca University
John Philpot, Defense Lawyer, Montreal Quebec
David Mandel, professeur associé, Political science, Université du Québec à Montréal
David Heap, Associate Professor, French & Linguistics, University of Western Ontario
Cydd Siniikwe Pajunen, PhD Candidate, Philosophy, University of Guelph
Peter Walmsley, Professor, English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Robert Wild, retired Anglican clergy
Dr. Kim Anderson, Guelph, Ontario
Lori Borthwick President of the Bay of Quinte Green Party of Ontario
Catherine Scott, Kitchener
Alannah Santerre, Thunder Bay

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