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

Kelly Janveaux announces her candidacy for School Board Trustee

A long-time youth advocate, this will be Janveaux’s first time running in a public election

Mt. Hicks fire 15% contained, continues to burn north of Agassiz

The fire, suspected to be caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, not threatening any structures

UPDATE: Anonymous tip leads DFO night patrol to Fraser River poachers

Charges pending after poachers arrested at night while fishing, 48 sockeye, harbour seal seized

Chilliwack is home to Sasquatch, the first Canadian-designed hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, the Sasquatch hop is the country’s first patented hops plant

Retro meets modern design with idea for iconic Paramount sign

Proposed Paramount Project plans for downtown Chilliwack unveiled Monday

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Police responding to ‘unfolding’ incident in Maple Ridge suburb

Helicopter, dog team, guns drawn and 16 police vehicles at Maple Ridge property

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

1954-built trolleybus hits Vancouver roads for 70th anniversary

TransLink to offer free rides on a retrofitted electric trolley bus to commemorate anniversary

Most Read