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Foster Girl Murdered
August 19, 2014 permalink
Police in Winnipeg have pulled the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine from the Red River. After running away from foster care she was murdered, then tied up in a way she could not have done herself. The police were not looking for her. They dragged up her body while looking for someone else.
Girl, 15, found in bag in Red River; police seek tips on slaying
Winnipeg police recover body of 15-year-old girl from Red River near Alexander Docks
Winnipeg police have released the identity of a girl found dead in the Red River Sunday afternoon.
Tina Fontaine, 15, was reported missing on Aug. 9. Her body was found in the Red River near the Alexander Docks at about 1:30 p.m., more than a week after she was reported missing.
Police are treating Fontaine’s death as a homicide.
“It’s obvious this child didn’t put herself in the river in that condition,” said homicide investigator Sgt. John O’Donovan. “She’s definitely been exploited and taken advantage of.”
Fontaine was last seen in downtown Winnipeg on Aug. 8 wearing a white skirt, blue jacket and pink-and-white runners. She stood five-feet-three-inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds.
O'Donovan said the teen was known to spend time near Portage Place.
“She frequented mainly the central area. [She] frequented places like Portage Place and the streets adjacent to that, parallel to that, around Portage Avenue,” he said. “She frequented the central area in general.”
Fontaine, of Sagkeeng First Nation, had only been in Winnipeg for a month before her disappearance.
“She's a petite little thing — just turned 15, barely in the city for a little over a month,” O’Donovan said. “And she’s definitely been exploited and taken advantage of and murdered.”
Fontaine was in the care of a Child and Family Services agency when she went missing, according to police. She had run away from her foster home before, including once in July of this year.
“We know that she was in care and that she was rebelling in that care she was in. She was running away and had a history of that, but obviously she was in danger doing that,” O’Donovan said. “At 15 I’m sure she didn’t realize the danger she was putting herself in.”
Police said she was found wrapped in a bag, in "a condition she couldn’t have put herself in,” O’Donovan said.
“She’s a child. This is a child that has been murdered … Society should be horrified,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for people to come forward. And that's why we're asking for people to help us and to come forward with anything they know about this child.”
O’Donovan said police can confirm she was alive on the morning of Aug. 9, but “anything further than that we would love to hear from people on.”
Anyone with information can contact police at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.
“It's an upsetting case here because we have a child here who is dead, plus we don't know when she died,” O’Donovan said. “We want to get it to the general public for their help.”
Police said Fontaine's body was discovered while police were looking for another — a man who had been seen struggling in the water near the Forks on Friday.
“The circumstances surrounding it are rather unique in that our dive unit was out there looking, you know, for somebody else,” said Const. Eric Hofley. “Unfortunately, the second body was located and recovered.”
Addendum: The social services system is safe. The report on the death of Tina Fontaine will be kept secret.
Report about murdered teen Tina Fontaine to be kept secret
The public may never know what exact role Child and Family Services played in Tina Fontaine’s life or her death.
WINNIPEG—Investigations are underway to determine whether Manitoba’s social services failed a 15-year-old aboriginal girl who ran away from foster care and was found dead in the Red River.
But the public may never know what exact role Child and Family Services played in Tina Fontaine’s life or her death.
The province’s children’s advocate automatically investigates whenever a child dies while in care, but the reviews are not made public. Child welfare authorities have also begun their own internal review but that is also confidential.
Ainsley Krone with the advocate’s office said Wednesday a final report will go to the Manitoba medical examiner, the ombudsman and the minister of family services.
To us, Tina Fontaine just another missing native kid: Mallick
“Under our current legislation, we don’t release it publicly,” said Krone, the advocate’s manager of communications, research and public education. “It’s the ombudsman’s office that has the responsibility for tracking the progress of recommendations that we make.”
Fontaine’s body was found on Sunday wrapped in a bag in the Red River after she ran away from her Winnipeg foster home where she had been for less than a month. Police are treating the case as a homicide.
The teen’s death touched a nerve in Winnipeg where more than 1,000 people gathered for a vigil Tuesday night to remember Fontaine and Faron Hall, the so-called “homeless hero” whose body was pulled from the same river where he saved two people from drowning several years ago.
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said she can’t talk about the specifics of Fontaine’s case but said the teen’s death is heartbreaking.
“This is a young woman that had a bright future waiting for her and it was stolen,” she said. “That is devastating for all of us.”
Fontaine’s case is being reviewed at several levels to see if there are lessons that can be drawn, Irvin-Ross said. The government is also looking at ways to make the children’s advocate’s recommendations public, she added.
But, she said, it’s tricky.
“It’s trying to find that balance between confidentiality and protecting the identity of families and children, but also making sure that we are sharing information with Manitobans.”
Despite countless reviews, inquests and inquiries, Manitoba continues to have a tragic history of children who have died while in the care of social services.
The murder of 5-year-old Phoenix Sinclair by her mother and stepfather in 2005 prompted major changes to the system and a doubling of the social services budget. It also spawned one of the most expensive inquiries in the province’s history that produced 62 recommendations.
The office of the children’s advocate still investigates about 160 child deaths each year.
Opposition critic Ian Wishart said it takes an inquest or an inquiry for the public to hear details about the failings of social services. There are still many unanswered questions in Fontaine’s case, he said.
“She had been moved within the last month to a new foster home. Whether or not there were enough supports there is one of the things we’re wondering about,” Wishart said. “She had apparently run away several times and, of course, the last time was with the most unfortunate of results.”
Police spent Wednesday canvassing the downtown area where Fontaine was last seen Aug. 8. Officers would like anyone who may have seen Fontaine or knows what happened to her to contact police.
The teen’s death has prompted renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. At a Liberal party meeting in Edmonton on Wednesday, Leader Justin Trudeau said the entire aboriginal community across Canada has been affected by Fontaine’s death.
“It comes on a compounded loss of so many missing and murdered over the years, which is why the Liberal party has always been unequivocal that we need a full, national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women,” he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair tweeted that he was “disgusted and saddened by this story out of Winnipeg.”
“Enough talk,” he wrote. “We need action and an inquiry, now.”
National Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations said an inquiry would be an important first step.
“We cannot allow violence to continue, particularly against some of the most vulnerable,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “First Nations demand immediate and concrete steps to better ensure the safety and security of indigenous women and girls in this country.”
The federal government has repeatedly rejected an inquiry. Justice Minister Peter MacKay did so again Tuesday when he said in a statement that it’s “time to take action, not study the issue.”
Source: Toronto Star