Tag Archives: Indigenous women and girls

‘We Want The Violence to Stop’: Dozens Gather at Vigil for Jeanenne Fontaine

Lana Fontaine sat on a stool outside her largely burned-down home on Saturday evening at a vigil for her daughter, Jeanenne Fontaine, who died on Wednesday after being taken off life-support. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Fontaine, 29, and Shania Chartrand, 21, were both shot, killed in Winnipeg this week

CBC News Posted: Mar 18, 2017

When Kimberley Kostiuk thinks about the two young Indigenous women who were shot in Winnipeg within 48 hours of each other, she is afraid for her own daughters.

“I have two young daughters that are that age. I worry for them all the time. You just don’t know … what’s going to be next. Two young women shot and killed in one week,” she said.

Shania Chartrand, 21, was shot late last Sunday night on the 200 block of Spence Street.

On Tuesday, Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was found in her home after she was shot in the back of the head, according to her family, and the house was set on fire. She was rushed to hospital but died on Wednesday morning, after being taken off life-support.

A vigil for Fontaine took place on Saturday at 7 p.m. outside her home on the 400 block of Aberdeen Avenue.

“The whole community is sad. We are all sad. We are very scared,” Kostiuk said.

“We want the violence to stop. It’s enough, we are losing too many of our young women too soon. This shouldn’t be happening.”

Mourners came forward to offer Lana Fontaine condolences throughout the evening. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Fontaine was the cousin of Tina Fontaine, the 15-year-old girl whose death sparked public outrage and calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Sandy Banman was one of around 50 people who attended the Saturday evening vigil. Banman hadn’t known Fontaine or Chartrand, but came to support the families and community.

“It just seems like something has shifted in the last few years, where the crime [in the North End] seems to be getting extremely … violent,” she said. “It’s just absolutely shocking what’s going on here this week in the city, with Shania’s loss as well as Jen’s loss.”

A member of Winnipeg’s Urban Warrior Alliance, Banman said she’s been to too many vigils in the past. She wants to see change.

Sandy Banman

Sandy Banman, a member of the Urban Warrior Alliance, said she wants to see more accessible detox programs for men, women and families in Winnipeg. (CBC)

“We just keep saying over and over, ‘This has got to stop,’ every vigil I do,” she said. “We do these vigils because the community needs to heal as well as families. This violence has to end. It has to stop.”

Banman said she wanted to see more accessible detox programs for men, women and families.

“We need to be healing families so this kind of crime and violence will end,” she said.

‘They are human beings’

Kostiuk is a member of Drag the Red, an organization that started searching the Red River for bodies after Tina Fontaine was found there.

Kostiuk joined the group in order to heal and to help others after her 16-year-old daughter’s death in 2000.

While Fontaine struggled with drug use and had a criminal record, Kostiuk said she was also a mother and sister.

“You hear a lot of negativity also about these people but people don’t know them,” she said.

“They are human beings. They are women. They are our women. They are mothers. They are sisters. They are grandmas. They don’t deserve this. Nobody does.”

Kimberley Kostiuk says the violence needs to stop after two young Indigenous women were shot in Winnipeg within 48 hours of each other. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The vigil was intended to give the community an opportunity to mourn Fontaine and Chartrand and “remember the good that they had in them,” Kostiuk said. But they are becoming too frequent for the Fontaine family, she added.

“That poor family, I can’t imagine what her mother is going through right now,” Kostiuk said, adding the little cousins have lost too many family members.

“They’ve been to so many vigils already. They shouldn’t even have to think of this at a young age.”


AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Urges Province Of Manitoba To Cooperate Fully With National Inquiry

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Logo.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Logo.


AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Urges Manitoba Government to Cooperate Fully with Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

WINNIPEG, June 30, 2016 /CNW/ – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief for Manitoba, Kevin Hart, stated today that the Province of Manitoba should cooperate fully in supporting and participating in a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, in light of reported statements by Manitoba’s Justice Minister that there are concerns about the inquiry’s potential terms of reference.

“I am calling on the Government of Manitoba to fully support the upcoming national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and for Premier Pallister to honour the promise he made during the election to support the national inquiry. Recent reported statements are of deep concern to me. This crucial inquiry, a process that has been commended on the national stage at the United Nations and beyond, has been fought for by many families, political leaders, advocacy groups and activists.

Now is not the time for political posturing on the backs of the families affected by this national tragedy. I am not only concerned but deeply offended that this government would be resistant to cooperating as this process gets underway. When it comes to reconciliation in this province, much work lies ahead of us, and the national inquiry is an essential piece in that work.

Each statistic tells a story, and as each day goes by another innocent life is lost or put at risk. Our families have waited too long and worked too hard. The national inquiry must do justice to our stolen sisters – and this can only be achieved through the full support, respect and cooperation of all levels of government in Canada. We all must share in the responsibility seeing this process through to fruition.”

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Kayla Frank, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 204-296-3601, kfrank@manitobachiefs.com


Manitoba Grand Chiefs Call On Trudeau To Fulfil Promise Of MMIW Inquiry

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak (left), AFN Grand Chief Sheila North-Wilson (centre) and AFN Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart (right) meet Tuesday morning following the Liberal's majority federal election win. (CBC)

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak (left), AFN Grand Chief Sheila North-Wilson (centre) and AFN Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart (right) meet Tuesday morning following the Liberal’s majority federal election win. (CBC)

CBC News

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson is hoping to see a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls called in the first 100 days of Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister.

North Wilson, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba regional Chief Kevin Hart gathered at a news conference Tuesday morning to congratulate Trudeau on the Liberal’s majority win.

North Wilson said she looks forward to working with the new Liberal government and is eager to see Trudeau fulfil his campaign promise to call a national inquiry.

“This is something that’s near and dear to our hearts and to my heart,” she said.

North Wilson said it’s crucial to take a deeper look at why Canadians are seeing epidemic numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

“We want families to be involved in the framework of what the national inquiry would look like,” said North Wilson. “There are many things that we’re hearing from our own families of why they see these problems. A lot of it has to do with poverty and lack of education and even just a complete disregard for our people and our families and that just can’t be anymore.”

North Wilson credits the commitment of women, men, teens and children who have been working to draw attention to the issue.

“They were relentless in holding vigils and ceremonies on our streets where women were found,” said North Wilson. “They were relentless and they brought out leaders and they brought out media. Sometimes there was only three people at a vigil, but they still held it.”

Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper had refused to call an inquiry, despite repeated calls to do so.

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said of all campaign promises made in this election, a commitment to hold an inquiry stands out as the most important to him.

“I think that Canadians recognize that there is a tragedy, there’s a national crime that’s happening on the streets of the cities and towns, communities across the nation,” said Nepinak.

Nepinak said he wanted to thank all Canadians who rallied together to bring the issue to the forefront.

“It’s not us versus them, it’s only us.” said Nepinak. “All those Canadians who saw this as an issue and went out to vote in a different way this time around, thank you so much for doing that.”

Nepinak believes involving families, as well as creating healing mechanisms for those affected, is vital to ensuring an inquiry has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.


Rally For Tina Fontaine Ends With Cousins Wanting A Meeting With Investigators

Video: Justice For Tina Fontaine March

By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Updated: Aug 23, 2015

A one year anniversary rally and march was held in Winnipeg to demand justice for 15 yr old, Tina Fontaine.

On Friday, Tina Fontaine’s cousins and their stepmother, gathered with local indigenous activists and community members at City Hall for a rally, before they marched in the streets to demand justice for Tina.

On Aug 21, 2014, five days after the teen’s body was pulled from the Red River, calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, were renewed when a protest camp was set up across from the legislative building in Winnipeg.

A handful of indigenous women set up the camp, — calling on the Harper government for an inquiry— that lasted 3 weeks and by the end some 50 tents had went up. The protest camp gained national attention.

Womens Protest Camp Winnipeg Photo: Red Power Media

The womens protest camp for a national inquiry in Winnipeg. (Sept. 2014) File Photo: Red Power Media

One year to the day, the protest continued as some of the same indigenous women and local activists who took part in setting up the camp, also organized a rally and march for Tina and her family.

Cousins of Tina’s including, Katie Fontaine and her sisters Rose and Angel, took part in an emotional rally, where tears streamed down their faces.

Tina Fontaine’s cousins and their mother at an emotional rally at Winnipeg city hall.

Tina Fontaine’s cousins and their stepmother Sarah Courchaine at an emotional City Hall rally. Screenshot: Red Power Media

A group of about 40 activists and community members walked with the cousins from City Hall along Main Street to Portage Avenue then to the Public Safety Building (PBS) where the Winnipeg Police Service is located, to mark the one year anniversary.

Jennifer Spence-Clarke, Left and Sandy Banman, Right, are two of the women organizers from last years protest camp who took part in the march for and rally for Tina Fontaine.

Jennifer Spence-Clarke, left and Sandy Banman, right, are two of the women organizers from last years protest camp who took part in the rally and march for Tina Fontaine.

Many held signs calling for Justice for Tina.

The goal was to once again encourage the federal government to launch an inquiry and pressure local police to provide more information to the Fontaine family about Tina’s unsolved murder.


Katie said the family still isn’t getting any answers from police and no one has been arrested.

Video: No Justice, No Peace for Tina at PSB building

After indigenous activists, along with Tina’s cousins had blocked the doorway of the PBS building, —where chants of No Justice, No Peace yelled out— Red Power Media asked a police officer for an update on Tina Fontaine’s case.

Video: Red Power Media asks the Police for an update on Tina’s ongoing investigation.

Police say investigators will make themselves available to meet with the Fontaine family.

Thelma Favel, Tina’s great aunt who cared for her before she was placed in care of child and family services, has said she wants more information to give her closure and allow her to grieve Tina’s death.

Katie told Red Power Media, that her family now wants to meet with investigators working on Tina’s case, to get answers, to the questions they have.

She also said “It makes me feel good people are still out there, trying to help us get the answers.”

Tina Fontaine

Tina Fontaine

Take Action On Missing Aboriginal Women

A photograph of Dauphinais is seen as participants hug during the '24 Hour Sacred Gathering of Drums' protest calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

A photograph of Dauphinais is seen as participants hug during the ’24 Hour Sacred Gathering of Drums’ protest calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Victoria Times Colonist

An arm of the Organization of American States is calling for a Canadian action plan or nationwide inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

An inquiry is needed, but it should do more than gather the tragic statistics with which we are already familiar. It should be specifically focused on finding solutions. We don’t need another report collecting dust while more lives are lost.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released its report Monday from an investigation the commission conducted in Canada in 2013. The commission’s main focus was on B.C., since this province accounts for 28 per cent of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada, but its report said what happens in B.C. reflects a pattern across the country.

Claudette Dumont-Smith, executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said: “This requires leadership from the government of Canada, since its leadership and participation is necessary in order to ensure nationwide co-ordinated, effective efforts.”

In total numbers, far more nonaboriginal women are murder victims than aboriginal women, but it’s the ratio that is shocking. Indigenous peoples account for 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population, yet 17 per cent of women murdered over the past 30 years were aboriginal.

It’s a heartbreaking situation, but not particularly mysterious. While the commission says a “fuller understanding” is needed, the underlying causes are fairly obvious and have been for generations.

“Indigenous women and girls constitute one of the most disadvantaged groups in Canada,” says the report. “Poverty, inadequate housing and economic and social relegation, among other factors, contribute to their increased vulnerability to violence.

This persistence of longstanding social and economic marginalization has given rise to large numbers of indigenous women living in vulnerable situations, including homelessness, and abusive relationships. It has also led to the disproportionate engagement of indigenous women in highrisk activities such as hitchhiking, drug use, gang activity and prostitution.

“They face discrimination on multiple fronts: as women within their home communities due to the patriarchal legacy of colonization, as women in mainstream society and as aboriginal persons in mainstream society.”

The commission’s report dwells at length on the frustrations families of murdered and missing women have experienced. Its recommendations are aimed at ensuring police take more seriously reports of missing aboriginal women, and that victims’ families get access to information.

But the action plan should go far beyond that. The problems are deeply rooted in the past, and solutions will be difficult, but not impossible. They include better housing, social programs, better educational and economic opportunities, and stronger supports to help families stay intact.

Yes, those measures cost money, but they will pay off. Poverty, isolation and lack of opportunity spawn substance abuse, crime and violence, which cost all of us dearly.

This holds true for any sector of our society where poverty rules, but Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples and the paternalistic Indian Act have exacerbated the problems.

The rights commission’s report acknowledges that governments in Canada are aware of the problems and have been taking steps. It cites the federal government’s statement: “Canada has been clear that abhorrent acts of violence will not be tolerated in our society, and remains committed to take action to address the situation of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.”

Those words need to be backed up by concrete measures, and those measures cannot be imposed from above – they must be worked out by all groups affected. The involvement of aboriginal women and First Nations leadership is crucial.

While a deeper understanding of the issue will be helpful, let’s remember that the statistics are not merely numbers. They represent real people and suffering families.

Originally posted in Victoria Times Colonist January 14, 2015