Brayden Bushby, 21, was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of the late Barbara Kentner on Dec. 14 by Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen M. Pierce. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9, 2021.
“On the facts of this case I find that the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no intervening act that displaces his responsibility in law on Ms. Kentner’s injuries and assumed death,” Pierce says. “Concluding, for the foregoing reasons I find that the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that by an unlawful act Brayden Bushby injured Barbara Kentner, accelerating and causing her death, and further that the Crown has met the burden to disprove intervening causes. Therefore I find Brayden Bushby guilty as charged of the offence of manslaughter.”
Bushby had pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and not guilty of manslaughter at his judge-only trial from Nov. 2-5 in Thunder Bay at the Courthouse Hotel.
“We welcome today’s verdict and stand with Barbara’s sisters, their families, and the community of Wabigoon Lake Ojibway First Nation as they receive this news,” says Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “It is encouraging that Justice Pierce rejected the victim-blaming presented by the defence and saw this case for what it was – a deliberate act with a foreseeable outcome. This case is a stark reminder of the systemic racism and violence perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples in Thunder Bay and across this country. Many recent acts of violence are raising fear that Indigenous lives are held at lesser value, and that the normalization of anti-Indigenous racism sees victims held responsible for their own deaths.”
Kentner, a 34-year-old Wabigoon Lake citizen and mother of one who lived in Thunder Bay, was hit in the abdomen by a trailer hitch thrown by Bushby from a moving vehicle in January 2017. She had emergency surgery to repair a ruptured small intestine caused by the trailer hitch injury, but died in July 2017.
“Barbara Kentner was loved and valued – she should still be with us,” says Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa. “I hope this verdict provides Barbara’s family, loved ones and community with some amount of closure. But the circumstances that made Barbara’s death at the hands of Brayden Bushby possible have not changed. Neither has the broken justice system that led to the downgrading of the charges against Mr. Bushby from second-degree murder to manslaughter, and continues to fail Indigenous people.”
Mamakwa says the killing of Barbara Kentner is not a single incident, but part of a long-standing pattern of several cases in Thunder Bay, and throughout Ontario involving the murders and disappearances of Indigenous people.
“Thunder Bay continues to be an unsafe place for Indigenous people – especially women,” Mamakwa says. “In order for there to be true justice for Barbara and far too many Indigenous women, girls, trans and two spirit people who have faced violence, governments at all levels need to address the systemic nature of anti-Indigenous violence, racism and colonialism in our society.”