'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.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Quebec man, 63, dies after police chase ends in multi-vehicle crash

    Canada News CTV News
    TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. - Quebec's police watchdog is investigating after a 63-year-old man died following a police chase that ended in a multi-vehicle crash. The investigations unit says its information suggests the victim was in a vehicle that was hit by a fleeing driver who was being pursued by a Trois-Rivieres police officer. Source
  • 8 dead after Missouri tourist boat accident, sheriff says

    World News CBC News
    A sheriff in Missouri says a tourist boat has apparently capsized on a lake, leaving eight people dead and several others hospitalized. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader says the accident occurred Thursday night after a Ride the Ducks tourist boat reportedly sank on Table Rock Lake with more than 30 people on board. Source
  • Tornadoes sweep through Iowa; major damage and some injuries

    World News CTV News
    DES MOINES, Iowa -- A flurry of tornadoes that formed unexpectedly swept through central Iowa Thursday, injuring at least 17 people, flattening buildings in three cities and forcing the evacuation of a hospital. The tornadoes hit Marshalltown, Pella and Bondurant as surprised residents ran for cover. Source
  • No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect's mental fitness for trial

    Canada News CTV News
    COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A review board failed to reach a decision Thursday on whether a man accused of stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death inside her Abbotsford, B.C., high school is mentally fit to stand trial. Source
  • More than 300 older children split at U.S.-Mexico border reunited with families

    World News CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- The Trump administration said Thursday that it has reunified 364 children ages 5 and older with their families after they were separated at the border, still leaving hundreds to go before a court-imposed deadline a week away. Source
  • World's translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

    World News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Canadian translators and their international counterparts say their work should be treated as strictly confidential and they shouldn't be compelled to testify about the private conversations they hear. The declaration comes as U.S. Source
  • Nicaragua's president celebrates crackdown on opposition

    World News CTV News
    MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- President Daniel Ortega used Thursday's 39th anniversary of the 1979 revolution against dictator Anastasio Somoza to celebrate strengthening his grip on power after three months of anti-government protests and to attack Nicaragua's Roman Catholic Church as allies of "coup mongers. Source
  • Global slavery report slams North Korea, repressive regimes

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Modern slavery is most prevalent in North Korea and other repressive regimes, but developed nations also bear responsibility for it because they import $350 billion worth of goods that are produced under suspicious circumstances, according to research released Thursday. Source
  • Former radio shock-jock sympathizes with downfall of Dave Wheeler

    Canada News CBC News
    Former shock-jock radio star Dean Blundell says he can sympathize with the unceremonious downfall of Winnipeg radio host Dave Wheeler, who was fired this week after making offensive comments about transgender people. Several years after his own ignoble descent from Toronto's popular 102.1 The Edge, Blundell says he understands times have changed and that on-air jokes about race, gender and sexual orientation are just not acceptable: "It's another wake-up call for everybody else. Source
  • Driver, 60, charged for 'intentionally' hitting 85-year-old pedestrian known to her

    Canada News CBC News
    A 60-year-old woman has been charged with aggravated assault after an 85-year-old woman was struck by a vehicle Wednesday at a west Edmonton KFC restaurant. The driver and the victim "are known to one another," police said in a news release Thursday. Source