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Helen Betty Osbourne, J.J. Harper and Manitoba's Aboriginal Justice Inquiry

STORY BY: Carol Renner
YEAR: 1988
LOCATION: Winnipeg, MB

Carol comments on the murder of an indigenous student named Helen Betty Osbourne in 1971, which is referenced in BOOM X. It wasn't until December 1987, more than 16 years later, that one of the four accused murderers, Dwayne Johnston, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Three months after the trial, in March of 1988, J.J. Harper, executive director of the Island Lake Tribal Council, was killed in an encounter with a City of Winnipeg police officer. This prompted the Manitoba government to establish the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, looking into all aspects of the way indigenous people are dealt with by the justice system in Manitoba. Carol says that it was "the first and only time the United Nations has given kudos to Canada for providing some leading information with respect to Aboriginal reconciliation." She goes on to say that "the rest of the time, the United Nations thinks that Canada treats Aboriginals like a Third World country", and writes that "Canada and Manitoba have done little to implement any of the recommendations" of the inquiry. Thanks for sharing, Carol.

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