On September 6, 2016, the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton will hear an appeal of the R. v. Barton decision and determine if the acquittal of Bradley Barton for the death of Cindy Gladue resulted from judicial error and discrimination in the trial process.
The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) filed a joint factum on May 2, 2016. The Court permitted a written submission that will provide critical insight into violence against women, especially Indigenous women in Canada.
Ms. Gladue bled to death on June 22, 2011, in a hotel room rented by Mr. Barton. Mr. Barton was charged with murder. At trial, the jury acquitted Mr. Barton of her murder after he defended himself on the basis that Ms. Gladue consented to “rough sex”.
LEAF/IAAW argue in our factum that the trial judge erred in admitting evidence of Ms. Gladue’s sexual history into the trial and that he failed to properly instruct the jury on the law of consent. These judicial errors allowed prejudice to infect the trial proceedings, raising discriminatory myths about Indigenous women and consent based on sexual history. In addition, the judge failed to adequately inform the jury that consent to a given form of sexual touching does not extend to the use of any conceivable degree of force by one’s sexual partner.
The disrespect shown to Ms Gladue’s dignity during the trial process, including the introduction into evidence of her preserved pelvis, outraged women across Canada The dehumanization of Ms. Gladue epitomized by this trial is unavoidably connected to the fact that Indigenous women are disproportionately targeted for violence in Canada.
LEAF and IAAW will continue to address the entrenched sexism and racism that Indigenous women experience in the criminal justice system, in life and after death. LEAF/IAAW believes that this appeal will have crucial implications for the law on consent to sexual activity, discrimination against Indigenous women, and the use of myths and stereotypes in sexual assault trials including sexual homicides.
About Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
Since April 17, 1985, when equality rights were enshrined in sections 15 and 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, LEAF has worked toward equality for women and girls. LEAF intervenes in key cases to ensure that when courts interpret equality rights, there will be a systemic improvement in women’s lives. For more information about LEAF, visit leaf.ca.
About the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Woman (IAAW)
For the past 20 years, IAAW has advanced the rights of Indigenous women through advocacy, education, research and program development. IAAW is composed of First Nation and Metis Women dedicated to supporting other women in their journey to build individual and family capacity while supporting the development of healthy, safe and caring communities. For more information about IAAW, visit iaaw.ca.
For Media Inquiries:
Kim Stanton, LEAF, Legal Director
416.595.7170 x 223, [email protected]