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 4th. 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.” (1)  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 9th 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.

[1]https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/manslaughter-charge-anti-indigenous-violence-another-win-for-colonial-injustice-thunder-bay

1.Dr. Catherine Cervin Vice Dean Academic Northern Ontario School of Medicine  

2. Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

3. Dr. Betsy Birmingham, Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lakehead University

4. Dr. Kristin Burnett, Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University

5. Dr. Lana Ray, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University

6. Dr. Barbara Parker, Associate Professor, Sociology, Lakehead University 

7. Dr. Toby Rollo, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Lakehead University

 

8. Ms. Lisa Harris, Coordinator Niijii Indigenous Mentorship, Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead University

 

9. Dr. Anita Vaillancourt, Assistant Professor, Social Work, Lakehead University

 

10. Dr. Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University   

 

11. Dr. Travis Hay, Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University

12. Dr. Rebecca Schiff, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University

13. Dr. Lindsay Galway, Canada Research Chair in Social-Ecological Health, Associate Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University

14. Dr. Anna Guttman, Professor, English, Lakehead University

15. Dr. Robert Robson, Associate Professor, Indigenous Learning, Lakehead University

16. Dr. Anna Kone, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences, Lakehead University

17. Dr. Judith Leggatt, Associate Professor, English, Lakehead University

18. Andrew Heppner, Project Coordinator, Lakehead University

19. Dr. Billie Allan, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

20. Dr. Gina Starblanket, Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Decolonization, Political Science, University of Calgary

21. Dr. Dallas Hunt, Assistant Professor, English Language and Literatures, University of British Columbia

22. Dr. Rhonda Hackett, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

23. Dr. Cindy Holmes, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

24. Ms. Jerri-Lynn Orr, Indigenous Curriculum Specialist, Teaching Commons, Lakehead University

25. Dr. Sarah Hunt / Tłaliłila’ogwa, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Political Ecology, Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

26. Dr. Karena Shaw, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

27. Dr. Sandrina de Finney, Associate Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria

28. Dr. Sarah Wright Cardinal, Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria

29. Dr. Esyllt W. Jones, Professor, Dean of Studies, St John’s College, University of Manitoba

30. Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson, Manager of Community Outreach, West Coast LEAF

31. Jana-Rae Yerxa, Faculty, Anishinaabe Gikendaasowin, Seven Generations Education Institute

32. Dr. Ian Mosby, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Ryerson University

33. Dr. Damien Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University

34. Ms. Tabitha Robin, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

35. Ms. Trudy Russo, Librarian, Lakehead University

36. Dr. Connie Russell, Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University

37. Dr. Greg Bak, Associate Professor, History, University of Manitoba

38. Dr. Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University

39. Dr. Sheila McManus, Professor, Department of History, University of Lethbridge

40. Dr. Paul Cormier, Associate Professor & Chair, Aboriginal Education, Lakehead University

41. Dr. Tricia McGuire-Adams, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Ganandawisiwin/Good Health Sovereignties, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa

42. Dr. Mary Jane McCallum, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous People, History and Archives, Department of History, University of Winnipeg

43. Dr. Whitney Wood, Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health, Vancouver Island University 

44. Dr. Kevin Brooks, Social Justice Studies Program Advisor, Lakehead University

45. Dr. Michael Asmussen, Canada Research Chair in Neuromechanics and Human Physiology, Mount Royal University

46. Dr. James Muir, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta, and Associate Professor of Law and History, University of Alberta

47. 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.

48. Dr. Martha Moon, Contract Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University

49. Dr. Jennifer Pettit, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Mount Royal University 

50. Sarina Piercy, Research Coordinator to Dr. Billie Allan, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

51. Dr. Robert Mawhinney, Professor, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University

52. Dr. Sean Carleton, Assistant Professor, Departments of History and Native Studies, University of Manitoba

53. Dr. Crystal Gail Fraser, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Classics, & Religious Studies and the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta

54. Leanne Kelly, Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria

55. Tom Potter, Professor, School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University

56. Dr. Jeff Corntassel, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of Victoria

57. Dr. Kristine Alexander, Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies & Associate Professor of History, University of Lethbridge

58. Dr. Rachel Warburton, Associate Professor, English, Lakehead University

59. Taina Maki Chahal, Contract Lecturer, English and Anthropology, Lakehead University

60. Shane Young, PhD Candidate (Trent), Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Ryerson University

61. James Aldridge, Vice-Provost (International), Lakehead University

62. Dr. Todd Randall, Dean, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University

63. Dr. Laurie Harding, Adjunct Professor, School of Children Youth Care, University of Victoria 

64. Denise Baxter, Vice Provost (Indigenous Initiatives), Lakehead University

65. Dr. Adele Perry, FRSC, Distinguished Professor and Director, Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba

66. Dr. Shirley Chau, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, UBC Okanagan

67. Dr. Jaymie Heilman, Professor, Department of History, Classics, and Religious Studies, University of Alberta

68. Dr. Annie Pullen Sansfacon, Professor, School of Social Work, University of Montreal

69. Sheryl O’Reilly, Indigenous Student Counsellor, Indigenous Student Services Centre, Lakehead University

70. Élaine Doiron, Administrative Assistant, Department of Indigenous Learning

71. Ms S. Monague, Indigenous Support Worker, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

72. Dr. Thomas Peace, Associate Professor, Department of History, Huron University College

73. Dr. Jessica Jurgutis, Assistant Professor, Departments of Indigenous Learning and Women’s Studies, Lakehead University

74. Dr. Caroline Durand, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Trent University

75. Dr. Patricia D. McGuire, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Carleton University

76. Dr. Jen Chisholm, Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, Lakehead University 

77. Dr. Hugo De Burgos, Associate Professor of teaching, Medical Anthropology, University of British Columbia Okanagan.

78. Dr. Nancy Janovicek, Associate Professor, History, University of Calgary

79. Dr. Megan Scribe, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University

80. Ms B Bissell, Contract Lecturer, Department of Education, Lakehead University

81. Dr. David Richards, Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, Lakehead University

82. Yolanda Wanakamik, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Director of Indigenous Affairs

83. Dr. Sarah Nickel, Associate Professor, Department of History, Classics, and Religious Studies, University of Alberta

84. Dr. Lori Chambers, Professor, Women’s Studies, Lakehead University

85. Dr. Michel Bédard, Dean, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Lakehead University

86. Dr. Liza Piper, Associate Professor, History, University of Alberta

87. Anna Chief, Coordinator of Indigneous Outreach/Recruitment, Indigenous Initiatives, Lakehead University

88. Michael Yellow Bird, Dean, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

89. Christina Chakanyuka, Assistant Professor & PhD Student, School of Nursing, University of Victoria

90. Dr. Lisa Bourque Bearskin, Associate Professor Thompson Rivers University. Kamloops British Columbia

91. Dr. Lise Vaugeois, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University

92. Dr. Kurt Markstrom, Senior Scholar, Desautel Faculty of Music, University of Manitoba

93. Darryl Harsch, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, CHN, University of Victoria Alumni 

94. Jill Greenwood, Instructor and Faculty Advisor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University

95. Dr. Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Associate Professor and Director, Indigenous Studies Program, University of Victoria 

96. Dr. Jarvis Brownlie, Professor, Department of History, University of Manitoba.

97. Dr. Melanee Thomas, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary

98. Dr. Shannon Stettner, Instructor, Department of Gender and Social Justice, University of Waterloo

99. Alana Prochuk, Manager of Public Legal Education, West Coast LEAF

100. Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, Canada Research Chair (Humanities and Health Inequities), Northern Medical Program, UNBC, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

101. Kate Feeney, Director of Litigation, West Coast LEAF

102. Bronwen Besso-Smith, BSW

103. Dr. Lynn Lavallee, Professor, Strategic Lead Indigenous Resurgence, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University

104. Victoria Chen, Office Manager, West Coast LEAF

105. Lorelei Williams, Founder of Butterflies in Spirit, Research Assistant at Sovereign Bodies Institute, MMIWG advocate involved with the MMIWG Coalition and West Coast Leaf. 

106. Dr. Julia Smith, Assistant Professor, Labour Studies Program, University of Manitoba

107. Dr. Nadia Verrelli, Associate Professor, Political Science, Laurentian University

108. Dr. James Rowe, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria.

109. Dr. Carol Williams, Professor of Women and Gender Studies and History, Director of the Centre for Oral History and Tradition, University of Lethbridge, Alberta. 

110. Dr. Suzanne Lenon, Associate Professor, Department of Women & Gender Studies, University of Lethbridge, AB

111. Dr. Judy Davidson, Associate Professor, Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

112. Michael Mihalicz, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Advisor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 

113. Dr. Andrea Eidinger, Sessional Instructor, Concordia University 

114. Jennifer Ward, PhD Student, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta; Assistant Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta 

115. Dr. Joe Carney, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Lakehead University

116. Dr. Lila Pine, Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University

117. Walid Chahal, Continuing Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University

118. Dr. Margo Tamez, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus

119. Catherine Carstairs, Professor, History, University of Guelph

 

Statement of solidarity with the Kentner Family signed by over 100 Canadian academics.

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Statement in Solidarity with the Kentner Family

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