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Death of Tina Fontaine

By Ruth Winnipeg, Manitoba UCF # 104200095

Page last modified on Monday, 05-Apr-2021 13:25:07 EDT


Tina Michelle Fontain

Tina Fontaine

She was last seen alive accompanying an individual that was solicitating a sex act from her.

Winnipeg, Manitoba - Tina Michelle Fontaine, 15, was a First Nations teenage youth who initially went missing multiple times throughout the early month of August 2014, but later found deceased. She was last seen alive accompanying an individual that was solicitating a sex act from her. Fontaine's body was later found at the bottom of the Red River on August 17. Police believe she had died on or around August 10. An autopsy was unable to conclusively determine a cause of death.

The teenager's 2014 death sent shockwaves through the city of Winnipeg and galvanised support for the better protection for indigenous women and girls.

In 2011, when Tina Fontaine was 12, her father was beaten to death; his two assailants were convicted of manslaughter. Fontaine's aunt recalled that her father's violent death deeply affected the girl. "She was very hurt, very lost. That's when she drifted away." Despite being eligible, she did not receive grief counseling following her father's death.

Reports found that she was often unable to access services despite clear indications she needed support.

Manitoba child and youth advocate Daphne Penrose released a long-awaited report into Ms Fontaine's life and how her case had been handled by various provincial agencies.

"Throughout her life, Tina needed an array of services from child and family, education, victim support, law enforcement, health, and mental health systems," Ms Penrose wrote in her 115-page report.

"At times, particularly in the final months of her life, some of these services were unavailable, not easily accessible, or ill-coordinated, which did not provide the supports and interventions she desperately needed."

Ms Penrose's report indicates that Ms Fontaine grew up in stable and loving home on the Sagkeeng First Nation, north-east of Winnipeg, from the age of five, living with her great-aunt.

But following the violent death of her father when she was 12, she began to struggle.

The report found the sadness caused by his sudden death "grew and expanded until it began to manifest in difficulty at school, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, running away, increasing violence, and being sexually exploited by adult men who preyed on her".

But the schoolgirl was never provided with a single counselling session or cultural healing services in the wake of his death, "despite ongoing assessments and recommendations that this was a critical need in her life".

Ms Penrose issued five recommendations to address "a number of gaps across these public systems" highlighted in her report.

Identified early as a suspect, Raymond Joseph Cormier was charged, but in February 2018, a jury acquitted Raymond, who had been charged with second-degree murder in her death.

Under new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, the government committed to creating an independent national inquiry into the issue of murders and violence against Indigenous women, which was started in 2017.

This case remains unsolved.

Read more about the Tina Fontaine case in this special report (Open in a new tab).

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