Excerpts from comments by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod in Parliament on the evening of Monday, June 3, 2019:
WHEN WE THINK ABOUT the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls and the child welfare legislation, many cases come to people’s minds. However, the tragedy of Tina Fontaine stands out in all our minds. Her body was found in the river on October 17, 2014, wrapped in a duvet. No one was ever convicted. The authorities had someone whom they questioned, but no one has ever been convicted.
Tina Fontaine represents so many things that have gone wrong, that have been wrong for too many years and that we all need to work together to address: colonialism, intergenerational trauma, the sixties scoop and the residential schools.
In honour of Tina’s memory and the significance of the day, I want to share a few details from the report that was done on Tina Fontaine. This is a bit of the executive summary and some other parts of the report. It says:
Tina Fontaine might always be known for the tragic way in which she died, but it is her life that is an important story worth knowing. It was on August 17, 2014, when most people would learn her name, but Tina’s story began long before that day. It began even before Tina was born on New Year’s Day in 1999. To know Tina’s story, to really understand how she came to symbolize a churning anger of a nation enraged, each of us can look as far back as the arrival of European settlers, and as close to home as the depth of our own involvement or indifference in the lives and experiences of indigenous youth.
It is a certain challenge to conduct a child death investigation. To gather files and evidence, to sort through boxes of information, to speak with an ever-growing list of people who knew the child, and then to create an accurate and thoughtful story about the life of that child. This is a process of honouring legacy and uncovering truths. To understand the complexities of any child and to truly understand their life within the broader context of a family…
It goes on to say:
Tina’s story was her own, and yet, it mirrors the stories of many others. The losses she experienced, the fracturing of her family, the inability to access necessary support, the promises of services that were never delivered, these are the echoes of so many other children and their families. These barriers that are experienced much more often and pervasively by Indigenous families is the story of Tina and the one that we have the opportunity to change.
One of the things the report talks about is the areas on which we need to reflect:
What were Tina’s needs and those of her family?
What interventions and supports were offered and when?
What is the family perspective on the services they received?
What needs to be improved?
What do the experts say needs to happen?
What do the Elders say we need to remember?
What do youth say they need to feel supported? And,
How can tragedies like Tina’s death be prevented in the future?
This morning, the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its report, which is 1,200 pages with 231 recommendations. I do not think anyone has had the opportunity to really digest that report and the different recommendations. As I read through them, certainly there are some that jump out right away and make a lot of sense, around policing and our processes around protocols. Then there are other recommendations that one questions and wonders how they will work.
However, it is incumbent upon us all to have a look at that report, look at the recommendations and consider what we need to do. The recommendations are for all levels of government. It is federal, provincial and municipal, but also indigenous levels of government, as well as indigenous and non-indigenous communities. There is a role for everyone to play.