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 firefighters, B.C. Wildfire battling bush blaze east of Oliver

Oliver Fire spokesperson could not give estimate of fire’s size, said 30 local firefighters on scene

Police with guns drawn in downtown Kelowna

RCMP close off part of Leon Avenue as they search for a man

Peter’s Bros. scores $9M federal contract to repave highway in Jasper

The Penticton-based company is expected to complete the highway repaving project by late-October

Elvis lives again in Penticton

Elvis Festival back this weekend for 17th year

NDP executive steps down in North Okanagan Shuswap

in-house ‘spending scandal’ blamed for Saturday’s resignation decision

Over 800 cars ready to roll into Peach City Beach Cruise

Largest Peach City Beach Cruise event to-date to take place in Penticton

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Vernon cold case murder suspect bail hearing Tuesday

Paramjit Singh Bogarh will appear in Vernon Law Courts at 10 a.m. June 19

Tigers looking to lock up title

Face Flames tonight in Penticton

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Most Read