Sagkeeng First Nation gathers to honour Tina Fontaine

Photo: theglobeandmail

 

Dozens of people gathered in Tina Fontaine’s home community north of Winnipeg to honour her memory and comfort her family.

Chief Derrick Henderson of the Sagkeeng First Nation says they wanted to let the teen’s relatives know they are not alone.

Last week, Raymond Cormier was found not guilty of second-degree murder in Tina’s death.

The 15-year-old’s body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg in 2014, after she came to the city to reconnect with her birth mother.

She had been in the care of Manitoba child and family services.

The verdict sparked sadness and angry calls for reform by Indigenous leaders who say the system completely failed Tina.

Mr. Henderson said the gathering and feast on Tuesday involved family members, elders, community leaders, politicians and high-school students who went to school with Tina before she moved to Winnipeg.

“The gathering is to support the family of Tina Fontaine,” he said. “The community is behind her, they’d always been behind her. But this is a gesture – have a meal, have a little bit of a ceremony.”

Thelma Favel, Tina’s great-aunt who helped raise her, said she wants to see changes to how children in the care of child welfare are treated in the province.

Ms. Favel said she wants people to be peaceful and is thankful for all the love and support during this difficult time.

Mr. Henderson said many people in the community are still in shock over the verdict and are eager to hear if the Crown will appeal.

“Why do we have to wait 30 days? That’s the feeling,” he said. “The community wants to know, what is the next step?”

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