“We honour Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse for their courage and strength.” – Grand Chief Jerry Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is responding to news that two First Nations men, Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse, were acquitted yesterday in relation to a crime committed in 1973.
“The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is extremely concerned, and saddened, regarding the injustice inflicted on Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “These two men are innocent and should have never spent years of their life behind bars. The sad truth is that First Nation peoples are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system due to ongoing systemic racism and discrimination. SCO continues to work towards ensuring we have a fair, equitable, and culturally relevant justice system.”
The two men, from the Pinaymootang First Nation, were wrongfully convicted in the death of Ting Font Chan. These innocent men were sentenced to life in prison. Arrested when they were only teenagers, the two men are now in their late sixties.
“Congratulations to Brian Anderson and Allen Woodhouse on their acquittal and being declared innocent by the judge. The mistreatment of these two men was due to the systemic racism that exists in the justice system to this day,” stated Chief Kurvis Anderson of Pinaymootang First Nation. “Thank you to Innocence Canada for their advocacy and guidance that has resulted in a clear exoneration of Allen and Brian.”
“The lives of First Nation citizens matter. It is tragic that Mr. Anderson and Mr. Woodhouse were forcibly separated from their families and communities, spending a significant portion of their lives unjustly incarcerated,” shared Grand Chief Daniels. “Both the police service and the Crown failed innocent people in this case. While I am pleased the two men have received an apology from the attorney general of Manitoba, there is so much more that needs to be done to compensate them and to prevent similar injustices from happening to any other First Nation person.”
First Nation citizens are over incarcerated, and according to Statistics Canada, in the last 10 years, there has been a 60 per cent increase in the incarceration of Indigenous men, and a 139 per cent increase in the incarceration of Indigenous women. Manitoba has the highest number of incarcerated Indigenous women in Canada and the highest youth incarceration rates in Canada (19 youth per 10,000 population).
In Manitoba, we are seeing an alarming increase in the number of people facing incarceration. This year, the number of inmates in provincial correctional facilities has increased by more than 12 per cent.
Given the details of what Mr. Anderson and Mr. Woodhouse have lived through, SCO was alarmed to learn that former prosecutor George Dangerfield was overseeing this case. To date, he has played an integral part as prosecution in four other wrongful convictions. As such, SCO is calling for a comprehensive review of all past convictions and cases overseen by Mr. Dangerfield involving First Nation citizens. SCO would also like to recognize Innocence Canada for providing representation to the Pinaymootang citizens and helping them to clear their names.
An apology and an acquittal will never help them get back the time they spent behind bars. It is our hope that proper compensation be provided to these innocent individuals by the Manitoba government.
SCO continues to focus on developing and delivering justice programming and advocacy for southern First Nations. You can learn more about our justice work here: https://scoinc.mb.ca/justice-and-rights/
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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