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Death of Winnipeg girl renews call for national inquiry

Monday August 25, 2014

The body of missing 15-year-old Sagkeeng First Nation member Tina Fontaine was pulled from Red River in Winnipeg Manitoba on Aug. 17.

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy is devastated by the news of her death, and demands that the federal government stand with all Canadians in their plea launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

“Enough is enough. Our condolences and our hearts go out to the family and community of young Tina Fontaine, who was barely 15 years-old and was senselessly and brutally murdered,” Beardy said. “This is unacceptable in a country like Canada where we expect our children and our women to live without fear.”

Fontaine’s body was found wrapped in plastic by Winnipeg police who were searching the Red River for another person who was seen struggling in the water on Aug. 15.

Beardy expressed frustrations as to why there has been no national inquiry into the matter of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

“I am not sure who else besides the Conservative government doesn’t want a National Inquiry.
First Nation leaders and the Premiers of the Provinces in Canada unanimously back this call and the United Nations has called on Canada to support an inquiry. Why are Harper and the Conservatives not listening?” Beardy questioned.

Numerous other civil society organizations both in Canada and internationally have done the same. A provincial working group and a federal special parliamentary committee have also been working to address violence against Aboriginal women but First Nations leaders say they are no substitute to an independent National Inquiry process which will hear directly from families and communities of victims and will lead to an examination of root causes and a national strategy.

Fontaine was in the care of Children and Family Services in Winnipeg, and had only been in the city less than a month before her death. She was reported missing on Aug. 9.

In May, the RCMP issued a detailed statistical breakdown of 1,181 cases since 1980. The report said Aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, yet account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

A vigil took place at the Alexander Docks in Winnipeg, where Fontaine’s body was found, on Aug. 19.

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