'Let's not forget she was a child': Murder charge laid in death of Tina Fontaine

WINNIPEG -- A man has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a Manitoba teenager whose fate galvanized calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal girls and women.

See Full Article

Tina Fontaine was just 15 years old when her body, wrapped in a bag, was found in the Red River in August 2014. She was supposed to have been in a group or foster home in Winnipeg, but she had run away.

Her family expressed relief after learning of Raymond Joseph Cormier's arrest.

"I thought I was going to be like some of the other women I know that are still waiting for answers," said Thelma Favel, a great-aunt who took care of Tina for much of her short life.

"The pain of her never coming home will never leave."

Winnipeg police called a news conference Friday to announce that Cormier, 53, was arrested in Vancouver earlier this week and remained in custody there while arrangements were made to return him to Winnipeg. They said Cormier, originally from New Brunswick, is unemployed and has lived for several years in Winnipeg.

Deputy police chief Danny Smyth said Cormier has a long criminal history with convictions across the country that include violent offences.

Court documents related to a recent robbery conviction indicate that since 1978, Cormier has spent more than 23 years in prison for various offences including assault and theft.

Fontaine had run away from Favel's home on the Sagkeeng First Nation, about 70 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, following the death of the girl's father. She headed to Winnipeg, where her mother was living a marginalized life.

Police said Tina became an exploited youth in the Manitoba capital and met Cormier at a residence they both frequented.

"It's believed that Tina and Cormier were acquainted."

Calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women intensified after Fontaine's death, but the Harper Conservatives refused to hold one. The new federal Liberal government announced this week that it will go ahead.

"The murder of this child -- and let's not forget she was a child -- has shocked and outraged our community. And I think that outrage has resonated across the nation," Smyth said.

Tina was in the care of Child and Family Services. The girl was being housed in a hotel -- a practice the Manitoba government says it has since stopped. She ran away from the hotel and the social workers tasked with monitoring her.

The girl was in a vehicle pulled over by two officers more than a week after she was first reported missing July 31, 2014, but she was not taken into custody. Her body was found nine days later.

Police said an investigation did not determined whether the officers knew Tina's identity at the time, or whether they were aware she had been reported missing.

Favel has said the officers did know the girl had been reported missing. She said that social workers told her that on that night -- a few hours after police came across Tina -- the girl was found passed out in an alley downtown. Paramedics took her to a nearby hospital.

Favel said Tina was kept for a few hours until she sobered up, then social workers picked her up at the hospital. She ran away again, was reported missing again, and her body was found wrapped in a bag in the river on Aug. 17.

Friday's arrest was welcomed by aboriginal leaders and government representatives.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of Tina and I pray they feel a sense of relief," Sheila North-Wilson, grand chief of northern Manitoba First Nations, said in a written statement.

"This has been an incredibly difficult and emotional time for Tina's family, and for the entire communities of Sagkeeng First Nation and Winnipeg," said Mayor Brian Bowman.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Another explosion injures 2 in Austin

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas -- At least two people were injured in another explosion in Texas' capital Sunday night, after three package bombs detonated earlier this month in other parts of the city and killed two people and injured two others. Source
  • Boy shoots sister in video game controller dispute: police

    World News CTV News
    Authorities in Mississippi say a 9-year-old boy has shot his 13-year-old sister in the head and wounded her after an argument over a video game controller. Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell told local news outlets that the girl wouldn't give up the video game controller when her brother wanted it on Saturday. Source
  • Volunteers won't give up search for boy, 3, swept away in Ontario river

    Canada News CTV News
    Nearly one month after a little boy was swept away in an Ontario river, dozens of volunteers continue to search for him. Kaden Young, 3, was ripped from his mother’s arms after her minivan ended up in the swollen Grand River, near Orangeville, Ont. Source
  • Lawyer charges grieving family thousands for time spent responding to complaint against him

    Canada News CBC News
    A grieving daughter was blindsided when the lawyer hired to settle her father's estate charged thousands of dollars for time he spent responding to a complaint the family filed against him. But lawyers are not allowed to bill for hours spent responding to complaints, according to the Law Society of Ontario. Source
  • 2018 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremonies

    Canada News CBC News
    2018 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremonies LIVE0:00 Nearly 2,000 athletes from the circumpolar north have gathered in Hay River, Northwest Territories, for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games Source
  • B.C. teachers' union to ask for higher salaries to help with shortages

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The union representing British Columbia teachers will look to boost salaries, when their contract negotiations open later this year. B.C. Teachers' Federation president Glen Hansman told a crowd at the union's annual general meeting Saturday night that the province's low starting salaries mean that B.C. Source
  • Trump to unveil opioid plan that includes death penalty for drug dealers: White House

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump will unveil a plan Monday to combat the opioid addiction crisis that includes seeking the death penalty for drug dealers and urging Congress to toughen sentencing laws for drug traffickers, White House officials say. Source
  • Baby dies from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Barrie, Ont.

    Canada News CTV News
    Police in Barrie, Ont., say a baby has died and his mother and sister are in hospital after a suspected carbon monoxide leak. Const. Sarah Bamford said that police responded to a 911 call from a frantic father at around 8:30 a.m. Source
  • Calgary siblings devastated after Arizona crash leaves their triplet sister dead

    Canada News CBC News
    A Canadian woman is among three people killed in a March 13 crash in Arizona that also left her husband in a coma. Patti Lou Doornbos — who goes by Lou — and Ron Doornbos, both 60, were on a sidewalk on their way to go hiking in Fountain Hills, about 50 kilometres northeast of Phoenix, when they were hit from behind by a Ford Explorer. Source
  • Florida bridge collapse: Out on errands, killed in an instant

    World News CTV News
    MIAMI -- They had just finished up lunch, and set off to run a humdrum errand: a drive to the travel agency to pick up airline tickets for their annual visit to their beloved homeland, Cuba. Source