Premier Pallister's Statement on Tina Fontaine

Aaron Brown
February 26, 2018

Commissioners from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women are encouraging people to support the family of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine while jurors decide whether the man accused of killing her is guilty.

Tina, 15, was found dead in the Red River on August 17, 2014, her 72-pound body wrapped in a duvet cover and weighted down with rocks.

There were gasps from Tina's family and their supporters as the verdict was read.

Spawning the hashtag #JusticeForTinaFontaine over the past month and more, the CBC has just announced that a Canadian jury has found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a 15-year-old First Nations girl by the name of Tina Fontaine.

"All of us should be ashamed". I drew the line, and that's why she got killed.

Indigenous leaders speaking at the march reiterated that social services and the justice system are failing Indigenous youth. She had been placed in a hotel by social workers when she disappeared. You talk about reconciliation.

There were also calls for Cormier to face other charges related to his relationship with Tina, who was from the Sagkeeng First Nation north of Winnipeg. Our hearts and prayers are with Tina Fonatine's family and friends and all of the leaders who supported the family during these very hard proceedings.

Anishinaabe elder Chickadee Richard said Indigenous youth must be protected. "There's monsters out there hurting our babies and I wonder when is this going to stop".

She and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014. Cormier told friends he had had sex with the 15-year-old. He repeatedly denied killing the teen, but Crown prosecutors argued the jury should convict him based on what they said were admissions of guilt in covertly recorded conversations.

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Cormier's defense lawyers, Tony Kavanagh and Andrew Synyshyn challenged recorded evidence and argued the Crown's case was built on "inferences made from recordings that are hard to hear".

With no DNA evidence and no cause of death, Kavanagh said the Crown can't prove that Tina didn't die from a drug overdose or naturally in what he called the "underbelly of the city". "It's unfortunate that Mr. Cormier was held in custody and put on trial for a case that was as weak as this", Newman said Friday.

"Generally after a trial, the case, including the court proceedings themselves will be examined to determine if an appeal is possible or appropriate", police said in a statement.

The defence said that with no DNA evidence and no cause of death, there were too many holes in the case. "And then the overall justice system - it was a court of law, it wasn't a court of justice". The jury heard Cormier gave the couple a place to stay, gave Tina drugs and had sex with her.

Before the Cormier verdict, Milward said, he always advised aspiring defence lawyers in his classes to do their utmost to get such remarks excluded so a jury never hears them.

"But now it's nearly like I'm tempted to tell the class. except when an Aboriginal person's a victim, and then apparently you don't have anything to worry about'".

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett tweeted after the verdict. "There needs to be swift action, certainly, looking at the justice system and how it is stacked against Indigenous people and the systems that are supposed to protect our kids but are leaving them vulnerable". Murray Sinclair, Manitoba's first aboriginal judge.

I was reminded the other day about the largest mass hanging in Canadian history - at Battleford, Sask., in 1885, where eight Indigenous men were hanged for their participation in the North-West Rebellion.

"The justice system will not change without us standing together", Daniels said in his statement.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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