Ottawa, ON – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes the recent acquittal of Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse, two First Nations men who were falsely accused of crimes they did not commit.
On Tuesday, July 19, 2023, Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal acquitted both men and ruled that they were wrongly convicted. Justice Joyal apologized to both men on behalf of the legal system that failed them, acknowledging that the case against the two men was based on false and manufactured admissions. Crown prosecutor Michelle Jules called no evidence and highlighted the role of systemic racism in the case.
In 1974, Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ting Fong Chan in Winnipeg one year earlier. Brian Anderson was released on parole in 1987, while Allan Woodhouse was paroled in 1990. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti ordered a new trial for both men in June of 2023, suggesting there was a reasonable basis to conclude a miscarriage of justice occurred.
“The acquittals of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Woodhouse are long overdue,” said AFN Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard. “These men lost years of their lives based on an unjust system that discriminated against First Nations individuals. While we welcome their freedom, nothing can make up for the time they served for a crime they did not commit.”
AFN Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard urged all levels of government to work with First Nations to bring meaningful change in the justice system. “Change will not come without action. Change will not come without First Nations people front and centre, leading the change our people need. We are the experts on systemic discrimination as we are the targets of it.”
The AFN will continue to call on Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, and others to take concrete action to eliminate racism and discrimination in the justice system and demand that other cases where anti-Indigenous racism is suspected to have been involved must also be re-opened to prevent First Nations individuals from experiencing a similar result as the two men acquitted this week.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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Assembly of First Nations