The National Farmers Union (NFU) is deeply concerned by the news that 93% of Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) annual convention delegates voted in favour of a resolution calling on the federal government to “expand the rights and justification for an individual to defend or protect himself, herself, and persons under their care and their property.” This resolution, put forward under the shadow of last summer’s tragic shooting of Colten Boushie by a Biggar-area farmer, reveals the dangerous undercurrent of fear and aggression in rural Saskatchewan. This is not the way to address problems faced in rural areas.
“We, the NFU, affirm the value of people over property. We do not support the ongoing colonial violence that continues to damage the social fabric of Saskatchewan,” said Rachelle Ternier, NFU Region 6 (Saskatchewan) Coordinator. “We thank the RM delegates who had the courage to vote against the resolution.”
In our economic system, so many people have been made powerless, and these people are often pitted against each other. As NFU President Jan Slomp wrote, following the Biggar-area shooting, “The lack of sound agriculture policy and the neoliberal agenda, both lead to a loss of farm income, decades of depopulating rural areas and the loss of essential services and community. This has led to the isolation of many rural dwellers. … People under economic pressure in prolonged isolation can easily come to the conclusion that the world is a hostile place.”
“We reject vigilante justice and the ‘wild-west’ notion of taking the law into our own hands. The path to a safe, positive future for all rural people involves strengthening community, focusing on building personal relationships with rural neighbours, both indigenous and non-indigenous, and increasing awareness of the history and challenges faced by all rural communities,” added Christopher Sanford Beck, NFU Region 6 (Saskatchewan) Youth Advisor.
Ternier concluded by saying: “We call upon fellow farmers, and other rural residents to work together, treating each other with respect and dignity, to create better living conditions for all rural people.”
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For more information:
NFU expresses condolences to family of Colten Boushie (Aug. 17, 2016)
A message from the NFU President, Jan Slomp. (Union Farmer Quarterly Fall 2016, page 3)