(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-
Barton filed an appeal on his conviction and sentence last week in Alberta after being sentenced to 12 ½ years for manslaughter following his second trial. The Crown has also filed an appeal on the grounds that Barton’s sentence was demonstrably unfit, having argued a sentence of 18-20 years would be more appropriate.
“As Indigenous people we are beyond exhausted and frustrated with what feels like a never ending fight for justice when our sisters are murdered or disappeared,” stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“The violence inflicted upon Cindy Gladue continued in the courtroom and within the legal system as we repeatedly saw her body, her life, and her Indigeneity scrutinized for all the world to see. We waited with hope and skepticism earlier this year as her killer faced another trial and applauded with relief when he was found guilty and finally sentenced. We stood with her family in our prayers as they finally felt justice was served. And now here we are again forced to wait while the courts entertain another sickening appeal from her killer. How are we to ever trust that the justice system will actually serve justice when it comes to Indigenous women and girls?”
“There are no words for the amount of disgust triggered in hearing that this violent killer still refuses to be accountable for the crime that he committed, and to accept responsibility for Cindy’s death. He has gone to the Supreme Court of Canada and back again, and at no point has he expressed any level of remorse for taking Cindy’s life and the severe harm he caused. Instead, he has acted as though he is the victim in the process and repeatedly attempted to find a loophole in the (in)justice system to avoid real consequences. We call upon the Courts to dismiss his appalling appeal expeditiously. We further support the Crown’s position in appeal that his sentence was in fact unfit and that he should be kept in prison for as long as the law will allow. Nothing will bring Cindy back, but her killer must be removed from society for a long as possible if there is to be real justice,” stated Lydia Hwitsum, of the First Nations Summit Political Executive.
“Our hearts and our prayers are with the family of Cindy Gladue, who have waited over ten years for justice to be served. We are absolutely outraged to learn that her killer once again is attempting to avoid responsibility, for his continued disregard for Cindy’s life and for the trauma he continues to inflict upon her family. Cindy was a daughter, a sister, a mother and a grandmother. As the tragedy of her death is once again dragged through the courts, we stand with her family and her community in honouring her life and all that she was and in calling for justice to finally be served so that she and they can finally rest,” stated BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
“My heart goes out to Cindy’s daughters and her family. I pray that we will soon have closure for the Gladue family and justice for Cindy – and that this case will stop dragging on. The Justice system which too often causes the pain, suffering, and trauma of Indigenous peoples to drag out, rather than effect swift closure and bring justice to the victim and the families impacted, must be overhauled. We must strive to achieve a justice model that is aligned with First Nations values, cultures and traditions. I ask the courts, how can we aim to get there and transform our justice system when the current system seems to be punitive to the victims themselves through perpetuation of trauma? Should this case be appealed successfully by either party, I hope those involved will keep in mind how they can effectively repair the damage and the additional burdens they are placing upon the Gladue family, and give Cindy the justice she deserves,” stated Regional Chief Marlene Poitras from the Alberta Assembly of First Nations.
“Cindy Gladue and her family have waited too long for justice. This case has demonstrated how Canada’s legal system must be transformed where true justice for First Nations women and their families must become the norm. The Assembly of First Nations intervened in the case against Bradley Barton at the Supreme Court in 2018 and advocated that reforms to Canada’s justice system are urgently needed to end the blatant racism that Indigenous women experience when they come into contact the systemic and institutionalized racism in criminal courts. In June, the AFN released a First Nations-led report, Breathing Life into the Calls for Justice: An Action Plan to End Violence Against First Nations Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. I continue to hold a vision where Indigenous women are safe, respected and treated with dignity always,” stated AFN National