IN THE HOUSE – Tina Fontaine case represents what went wrong

Tina Fontaine. (Image: Facebook)

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.



About Mel Rothenburger (8893 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on IN THE HOUSE – Tina Fontaine case represents what went wrong

  1. John Noakes // June 4, 2019 at 9:19 AM // Reply

    It only took once looking into the eyes of an innocent “under 16” Indigenous girl being ferried to a known crack shack (more politely called ‘nuisance property’) at 6 A.M. on a school day to change the fibre of my being.
    Not until then did I read what I could about the taking of Tina Fontaine. It made me realize how much our society has failed these young girls.
    It makes me sick to see the crocodile tears and hear the mournful voices of politicians who spout off about the opioid crisis. The same guys who sell drugs, make drugs and laugh at our justice system are the same guys who make whores of young girls.
    And shame on the guys who buy these girls to satisfy the evil inside of you.
    Rest in peace, Tina, and all the other girls who are just like you deep inside.

  2. Ian M MacKenzie // June 4, 2019 at 7:32 AM // Reply

    Listening to the reading of only a section of this story of genocide is a powerful condemnation of all the policies our governments have unsuccessfully put into place in order to assimilate our aboriginal relatives. They have defied all our attempts to disappear, thank God, because they have now become the leaders in pointing the way for an exploitative colonial economic system to change its approach using their seven generation principle, the ultimate in precautionary decision making. Long may they lead!

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