National Post

Man charged in Tina Fontaine death

- By Steve Lambert

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.

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 had run away.

Her family expressed relief Friday 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 said Cormier, 53, was arrested in Vancouver this week and is in custody there while arrangemen­ts are being made to return him to Winnipeg.

The suspect, who is 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.

Tina had run away from Favel’s home on the Sagkeeng First Nation, about 70 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, after her father died. She headed to Winnipeg, where her mother was living a marginaliz­ed life.

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

Calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women intensifie­d after Tina’s death, but the Harper Conservati­ves refused to hold one. The new federal Liberal government announced this week 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 who were supposed to monitor her.

Tina 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.

Aboriginal leaders and government representa­tives welcomed the news of Cormier’s arrest.

“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 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.

 ?? Postmedia News ?? Raymond Joseph Cormier has been arrested in the murder of Tina Fontaine.
Postmedia News Raymond Joseph Cormier has been arrested in the murder of Tina Fontaine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada