At UVic, hundreds march to protest ‘built-in racism’ in justice system

About 300 University of Victoria students, faculty and supporters staged a march Wednesday highlighting what they see as the in-built racism of Canada’s justice system.

Highlighting last month’s not-guilty verdicts for the accused killers of Tina Fontaine, 15, in Winnipeg and Colten Boushie, 22, in Battleford, Sask., the marchers wanted to draw attention to a system they say is failing Indigenous Peoples.

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Demonstrators, some carrying a drum or wearing First Nations regalia, marched around the university’s Ring Road.

Sarah Robinson, spokeswoman for the UVic Indigenous Law Students Association and a member of the Fort Nelson First Nation and Salteau People, said European and Canadian justice is not working for Indigenous Peoples and peoples of colour. 

The system is starting to reveal itself as a one designed to enforce power and authority, often at the expense of basic fairness, she said. For example, Robinson said, people of colour are more frequently “carded” — stopped by police and asked for identification.

Each incident gets recorded and each time adds up to greater suspicion and more enforcement, she said.

“They’ll say: ‘I see you have been stopped by police before.’ ” 

Similar marches were scheduled to take place at other Canadian campuses, including McGill University, Concordia University and the University of Toronto.

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