People enter the Law Courts in Winnipeg for the second degree murder trial of Raymond Cormier on Monday, February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Indigenous leaders call for change after ‘system fails’ Tina Fontaine

‘All of us should be ashamed’: Calls for change after jury finds Raymond Cormier not guilty

Supporters of Tina Fontaine plan to hold a walk in Winnipeg today to honour the girl a day after the man accused of killing her was found not guilty.

A jury acquitted Raymond Cormier, 56, of second-degree murder after 11 hours of deliberation.

The verdict was met with anger and sadness by Indigenous leaders who say the 15-year-old girl was completely let down by the social safety net that was supposed to protect her.

Related: Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

“The CFS (Children and Family Services) system has definitely failed Tina Fontaine, the Winnipeg Police Services failed Tina Fontaine and Canadian society failed Tina Fontaine,” said Kevin Hart, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Manitoba.

“Everybody right now across this country should be ashamed of themselves for the injustice that just occurred here.”

Tina’s body, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg eight days after she was reported missing in August 2014. Cormier was charged more than a year later.

Tina was being sexually exploited after coming to Winnipeg from Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The jury heard how Tina’s relatively stable upbringing spiralled out of control when her father was murdered. Her mother came back into her life and Tina had gone to visit her in Winnipeg, where the girl descended into life on the streets.

She and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014. The jury heard Cormier gave the couple a place to stay, gave Tina drugs and had sex with her.

Fontaine was in the care of social services and was staying at a Winnipeg hotel hotel when she disappeared.

Her death prompted renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the high-levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls is unacceptable.

She said Fontaine’s death galvanized Canadians to demand measures to stop the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“The families of these women and girls – and the whole country – need answers to the systemic and institutional failures that lead to the murder of Tina Fontaine and far too many other Indigenous daughters, mothers, sisters, aunties, and friends,” Bennett said.

“We need to examine all the factors that lead to these violence acts, including: policing, child welfare, health care, and the social and economic conditions.”

Sheila North, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an organization that represents northern Manitoba First Nations, said everyone involved in Tina’s life failed her.

“We as a nation need to do better for our young people. All of us,” said Sheila North, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an organization that represents northern Manitoba First Nations.

“All of us should be ashamed.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

From left, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, Southern Chiefs’ Organization, Chief Arlen Dumas, Chief Sheila North, and Chief Kevin Hart speak to media outside the law courts in Winnipeg after the jury delivered a not-guilty verdict in the second degree murder trial of Raymond Cormier, Thursday, February 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Just Posted

Local astronomer to share knowledge about planetary nebulae

Local astronomer explains our sun will one day eject its outer layers to form a planetary nebula

School district considers new position, drug concerns raised

Assistant superintendent confirms spike in use of a Xanax-like drug in schools earlier this year

Nanaimo’s elementary schools graded by Fraser Institute

Annual Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools released Saturday, April 21

UPDATED: Nanaimo man dies after highway crash in Nanoose Bay Friday afternoon

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road.

School district changes mind, won’t cut community school coordinators

Budget initiatives proposed for next school year

MULTIMEDIA: Goats were special guests at Nanaimo Earth Day celebration

Community event was held Saturday, April 21, at John Barsby Secondary School

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Nanaimo region receives $700,000 in federal support for summer jobs

Funding for Nanaimo-Ladysmith up $74,000 from last year

Students celebrate new indigenous garden

Garden teaches students about traditional uses of local plants

RCMP investigate sexual assault in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating a reported sexual assault April 11

RCMP discover beaver the culprit in break-and-enter attempt

Nanaimo RCMP responded to a 911 call on Sun Valley Drive on Wednesday night

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Most Read