Raymond Cormier acquittal sparks rallies in solidarity with Tina Fontaine

The not-guilty verdict in the death of Tina Fontaine has sparked calls to action across Canada honouring the 15-year-old Sagkeeng First Nation girl and calling for systemic change.

On Friday morning, Fontaine’s supporters will gather outside the Winnipeg courthouse where Raymond Cormier walked free the previous evening.

Rallies are also scheduled for Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Guelph, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax over the weekend.

“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.”

A jury acquitted the 56-year-old after a three-week trial. Fontaine’s body, wrapped in a duvet cover and filled with rocks, was pulled from the Red River in August 2014. Cormier was charged almost 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 when she disappeared.

Her death prompted renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Here’s what other leaders had to say following Cormier’s acquittal:

“The death of Tina Fontaine was a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends and entire community. Her death galvanized our whole country to demand measures that would stop the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.” – Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, in a statement.

“Shocked and disgusted. Tina is a symbol of MMIWG in our country _ and this is the signal Cdn society sends? No justice. No peace. We must stand up to this injustice.” – Niki Ashton, NDP MP for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, on Twitter.

“Once again justice was not found in the courtroom for a FirstNations child … The trauma and pain this causes for me and all First Nations people across Canada is deep. Systemic injustices require systemic action to change.” – Perry Bellegarde, national chief, Assembly of First Nations, on Twitter.

“There’s no question in my mind that we all failed Tina. And we are all continuing to fail other young Indigenous people in communities across our country. I believe Canada is the greatest country in the world … but until we all confront the shame and tragedy of our country’s racist treatment of Indigenous people we will fall short of that great country we know Canada to be.” – Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, in a statement.

– With files from The Canadian Press


2 thoughts on “Raymond Cormier acquittal sparks rallies in solidarity with Tina Fontaine

  1. SAYING NO TO RACISM IS THE PATH TO RECONCILIATION

    The recent MURDER of 2 young Indigenous peoples in Canada with the verdict of not guilty, is cause to reconsider reconciliation and give into the anger. I believe, this is the wrong path, for the following reasons.

    One: You will go to jail for property damage, assault, and other violations of the Criminal Code of Canada.

    Two: Your family will suffer, being in a negative state of mind, you will be prone to lash out to those that look up to you, your family.

    Three: Hating on your coworkers only shows weakness of character, and you will lose your job. You and your family will suffer.
    I could go on but you get my point.

    The only option is to end racism in Canada is to remain calm. Being calm does not mean doing nothing. You can start with.

    One: Read the Criminal Code of Canada and follow three simple rules, Do no harm. Do not break stuff and Do not steal.

    Two: Love your family and yourself. Be a positive role model for yourself and your children and others that you interact with.

    Three: Get help with your addictions, if you have any. The inter generational effects of the residential school has impacted native culture in the worst way possible. It has attacked the very foundation of our family structure. Only with a conscious effort can we overcome this travesty. A good starting point would be listening to Gabor Mate

    Four: Become active in your community, become a volunteer, sit on boards, join the school advisory committee. These are just examples, as there are many available.

    Five: Register to vote. Get involved in the jury pool as you are only considered a juror under certain conditions.

    Six: If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly. Remember that the government has a process you can take. It is time-consuming, but you will get better at it. Share this knowledge you have learned. For you will empower others to use the system as it was meant to be used.

    Seven: If you live on reserve, remember your Chief and Council are government agents and must follow the Indian Act. Form a traditional governance system in regard to the land question? Chief and Council are only responsible to what happened on reserve! Remember that.

    Eight: Implement a Constitution for your First Nation. Include all band members, stop excluding off reserve members. Consultation is to include every band member on/off reserve, i.e. referendum vote.

    Resist giving in to the hate you feel. Become proactive. If you see something racist or someone racist. Speak up as I am doing now.
    Respectfully,

    Joseph Roberts of the Frog Clan Tl’azt’en Nation

  2. SAYING NO TO RACISM IS THE PATH TO RECONCILIATION

    The recent MURDER of 2 young Indigenous peoples in Canada with the verdict of not guilty, is cause to reconsider reconciliation and give into the anger. I believe, this is the wrong path, for the following reasons.

    One: You will go to jail for property damage, assault, and other violations of the Criminal Code of Canada.

    Two: Your family will suffer, being in a negative state of mind, you will be prone to lash out to those that look up to you, your family.

    Three: Hating on your coworkers only shows weakness of character, and you will lose your job. You and your family will suffer.
    I could go on but you get my point.

    The only option is to end racism in Canada is to remain calm. Being calm does not mean doing nothing. You can start with.

    One: Read the Criminal Code of Canada and follow three simple rules, Do no harm. Do not break stuff and Do not steal.

    Two: Love your family and yourself. Be a positive role model for yourself and your children and others that you interact with.

    Three: Get help with your addictions, if you have any. The inter generational effects of the residential school has impacted native culture in the worst way possible. It has attacked the very foundation of our family structure. Only with a conscious effort can we overcome this travesty. A good starting point would be listening to Gabor Mate

    Four: Become active in your community, become a volunteer, sit on boards, join the school advisory committee. These are just examples, as there are many available.

    Five: Register to vote. Get involved in the jury pool as you are only considered a juror under certain conditions.

    Six: If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly. Remember that the government has a process you can take. It is time-consuming, but you will get better at it. Share this knowledge you have learned. For you will empower others to use the system as it was meant to be used.

    Seven: If you live on reserve, remember your Chief and Council are government agents and must follow the Indian Act. Form a traditional governance system in regard to the land question? Chief and Council are only responsible to what happened on reserve! Remember that.

    Eight: Implement a Constitution for your First Nation. Include all band members, stop excluding off reserve members. Consultation is to include every band member on/off reserve, i.e. referendum vote.

    Resist giving in to the hate you feel. Become proactive. If you see something racist or someone racist. Speak up as I am doing now.
    Respectfully,

    Joseph Roberts of the Frog Clan Tl’azt’en Nation

Comments are closed.