Memorial held on anniversary of Tina Fontaine murder in Winnipeg

Veteran MMIWG2S Activist encouraged by work of younger generation.

The younger brother of a murdered First Nations girl is taking up the torch in the fight for justice for missing and murdered women, girls and 2 Spirit people.

Nine years after his sister Tina Fontaine was murdered, Elroy Fontaine planned a gathering at Oodena Circle in Winnipeg Thursday night to draw attention to the ongoing crisis, and to keep his sister’s memory alive.

“I remember CFS bringing me down to their office and them sitting us down in a room and telling us my sister Tina was murdered,” he told APTN News.

Tina Fontaine
‘It’s just time to fight back against the system and change things,’ says Elroy Fontaine. Photo: APTN.

Elroy Fontaine was just a young child in foster care when his older sister went missing. He said he couldn’t make much sense of it at the time. Tina, just 15, disappeared in August 2014 in Winnipeg. Her body was pulled from the Red River near a dock in downtown Winnipeg eight days later.

But activists said they wouldn’t let her memory die. There’s a red jingle dress painted on the asphalt near the dock, and driftwood with red handprints spelling out her name can be seen close to a fence that blocks the area from public access due to damage caused by ice.

There’s also a tree planted near the site that is now adorned with small red dress ornaments.

“It took me a couple of years to understand everything and I knew that it happened for a reason,” Fontaine said. “I’m supposed to go and stand up for MMI and be an advocate and go to these rallies in support and use my voice and be my sister’s voice as well.”

Tina Fontaine’s death galvanized calls for a national inquiry into the hundreds of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada. It also led to the revitalization of the Bear Clan Safety Patrol in the city. But the man charged with killing Fontaine was acquitted in 2018.

Elroy Fontaine joins other young activists like Cambria Harris in bringing awareness and fighting for change to end the MMIWG2S crisis. Harris’s mother, Morgan Harris, is one of four victims of an alleged serial killer.

Her remains are believed to be in a Winnipeg area landfill.

Tina Fontaine
A red dress painted on the path leading to the Red River in Winnipeg. Photo: APTN.

Cambria and Elroy’s activism is encouraging to Sue Caribou who has been a prominent voice since her niece Tanya Nepinak was murdered in 2011.

Nepinak’s body has never been found, but Winnipeg police have said they believe she is dead. They also said they believe her body was dumped in a garbage bin and taken to Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill, the site of Camp Morgan, established by Cambria Harris and other family members and supporters to put pressure on various levels of government to find their loved ones.

Caribou had a message for the younger activists.

“I pray for the next generation to do a good job so they have a better, brighter future and to work together as the community to support one another and not just go support this and that…no favourites,” Caribou said.

“Just let’s start working together so things will go in a good way for our people.”

Elroy Fontaine said there’s a lot more work to be done but he’s ready to take it on.

“I don’t see much change other than the awareness, but it’s just time to fight back against the system and change things,” he said.

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