Race need not be a factor in Niganobe trial

SAULT STE. MARIE (February 26, 2008) – The Anishinabek Nation is concerned over the need for a change of venue order in the trial resulting from the death of a Sault Ste. Marie police officer.

Jeanette Niganobe, 31, is being charged with impaired driving causing death in a May 14, 2006 accident that killed Constable Don Doucet of the Sault Ste. Marie City Police Service.  On January 28, Justice Larry Whalen order the trial to be moved to Sudbury citing, among a number of reason, “possible racial bias”.

Ms. Niganobe is a citizen of Mississauga First Nation.

According to Justice Whelen:  “General and systematic prejudice against First Nations Canadians is an unfortunate phenomenon well-recognized by our highest courts.”

“Our hearts go out to the family of Constable Doucet and trust that justice will be served on both sides of this case,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage speaking today from the Ojibways of Garden River, just east of Sault Ste. Marie.  “However, we are concerned that the case needed to be moved to Sudbury in order to ensure a fair trial for the accused.”

“No matter how grave the circumstances and how serious the charges are against the accused, all citizens have a right to a fair trial,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.  “Race and racism need not be brought out as a factor in this case, and need not be a factor in seeking justice for the Doucet family.”

Grand Council Chief acknowledges that for a variety of historic reasons, including racial prejudice, “a disproportionate percentage of our people are involved in the justice system and are subject to incarceration more than any other identifiable group in Canada.”

The trial is expected to begin on May 16, 2008.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949.  The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario.  The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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For more information:

Bob Goulais
Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
Phone: (705) 497-9127 (Ext. 2249) or cell: (705) 498-5250
Email: goubob@anishinabek.ca

NOTE:  Grand Council Chief John Beaucage will be available to the media in the Sault Ste. Marie area February 26-27.

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