Crown won’t appeal verdict in Tina Fontaine case

Raymond Cormier, right, was acquitted in the death of Tina Fontaine

Crown will not appeal acquittal of Raymond Cormier 

Manitoba Justice says Crown prosecutors will not appeal the acquittal of a man who was accused of killing 15-year-old Tina Fontaine.

Last month, a jury found Raymond Cormier, 56, not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Tina, whose body was found wrapped in a duvet cover weighed down with rocks in the Red River in Winnipeg on Aug. 17, 2014.

The verdict sparked rallies and support for Tina’s family from across turtle island.

“After a critical review … by the Manitoba Prosecution Service’s appeal unit and the Crown attorneys who prosecuted the case, it has been determined there are no grounds to base a successful appeal,” says the statement released Tuesday.

The Crown says it has advised Tina’s family of the decision.

Her cause of death remains unknown.

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Calls for Child Welfare overhaul filter into Sask. after Tina Fontaine’s death in Man.

Manitoba’s child welfare system has been criticized since Tina Fontaine’s body was found in the Red River in 2014. (CBC)

81% of 5,000 children in care in Sask. are Indigenous

As the death of Tina Fontaine leads to calls for an overhaul of the child welfare system in Manitoba, a similar push is gaining momentum in Saskatchewan.

On Aug 17, 2014, Fontaine was found dead in Winnipeg’s Red River. Fontaine was originally from Sagkeeng First Nation, but had been in the care of Manitoba’s child welfare system at the time of her death.

Calls for drastic change in Manitoba’s child welfare system have been consistent and loud since Fontaine’s body was discovered. In Saskatchewan, similar whispers are getting louder.

There are approximately 5,000 children in care in Saskatchewan, and about 4,000 of them are Indigenous.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has been in talks with the Ministry of Social Services in Saskatchewan since October — when Second Vice-Chief David Pratt was elected to improve the situation for young Indigenous people in the care of the province. The collaboration is in its infancy, according to Pratt.

David Pratt is the second vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and manages the child welfare file. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC News)

“There’s a lot of receiving homes open in Saskatchewan and we want greater accountability in terms of what’s going on in those homes, who’s staffing those homes, if there’s any cultural component happening in those homes,” he said.

“I think we need to work together as partners.”

Pratt has been encouraged by the readiness of federal ministers Jane Philpott, of Indigenous Services, and Carolyn Bennett, of Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, to focus on prevention of children having to go into care, rather than band-aid solutions.

But Pratt said the province has some work to do.

‘Here in Saskatchewan, we have a lot of work to get done.’ – FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt on Saskatchewan’s child welfare system

“A lot of times the government comes to us with the jurisdictional song and dance. We know the constitution. We know what Section 91 states, that responsibility [for] Indians falls under the federal government. But we’ve got to look at what regions like Ontario are doing.”

In Ontario, federal and provincial governments work with Ontario Chiefs as a tripartite to work toward better outcomes for children in care.

“In Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq actually helped draft the child welfare legislation. Why can’t we do that in Saskatchewan? Let’s open up that legislation.”

Pratt believes that groups like the FSIN have solutions, if only various levels of government would listen.

Recognizing trauma, heritage

Part of improving outcomes for Indigenous children who are unable to live with their parents is connecting them with their home communities.

“Nine hundred of these children are not registered with their community, so we’d like to work as partners with the ministry to get them back registered,” said Pratt

“It’ll help them with their identity. Learning who they are is part of a healthy young individual.”

A young Indigenous person’s identity, though, can often involve a history linked to residential schools and intergenerational trauma, and the necessity of navigating colonial systems.

“Our treaty partners in Saskatchewan, non-Indigenous people, need to realize our history and that we’re not going to find solutions unless we work together on them,” said Pratt.

Within the province’s social services, there has been a conscious shift over the past few years to be more sensitive to the needs of young Indigenous people, and to connect them with their First Nations and families

Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on Aug. 17, 2014. It was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks. (Tina Fontaine/Facebook)

“For many Indigenous families we work with, they might identify elders, community leaders, or agencies like community-based organizations that are Indigenous-run, or they might identify their home First Nation, so we’d connect with them in developing the case plan,” said Tobie Eberhardt, executive director of community services at the Ministry of Social Services.

“It would be around the family identifying what their needs are, who they would see as their natural supports.”

Every child is also subject to a strength and needs assessment when they come to the ministry for help.

Most often, children are then placed with a family member, or at the very least, with someone familiar to them.

“Sixty per cent of children in Saskatchewan are placed with extended family, or significant people in their lives,” said Eberhardt.

CBC News Posted: Feb 26, 2018

[SOURCE]

3 Men Arrested in Connection to Killing of Tina Fontaine’s Cousin

Jeanenne Chantel Fontaine died after being shot and being exposed to a fire on March 14. Three people have been arrested in connection to the homicide. Winnipeg Police Service Handout

Global News | May 17, 2017

Three men have been charged in connection to the death of Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, who was found shot in the head in a North End home in March.

Fontaine is the cousin of Tina Fontaine, the teenage girl whose body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River in August 2014.

On March 14 at 9:45 a.m., police were called to a house fire 400 block of Aberdeen Avenue. Crews found Fontaine in the house and she taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where she later died.

Fontaine was shot in the head before the fire began, police said.

Investigators also determined the fire was deliberately set.

On May 16, homicide investigators went to the Provincial remand Centre and arrested three men in connection to her death.

Christopher Mathew Brass, 34, has been charged with manslaughter and arson disregard for human life. Malcolm Miles Mitchell, 24, has been charged with second-degree murder and arson disregard for human life. Jason Michael Meilleur, 38, has been charged with manslaughter.

All three are in custody.

Brass was also arrested and charged in connection to another homicide that happened in February.

On Feb. 8, Bryer James Prysiazniuk-Settee, 24, was found shot in the area of Powers Street and Aberdeen Avenue. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died.

Brass has been charged with second-degree murder.

[SOURCE]

‘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.”

[SOURCE]

Tina Fontaine’s Cousin Dies after Being Shot in Head, Home Set on Fire, Family Says

Family of Aberdeen fire victim speaks out

Family pleads for information in death of 29-year-old Jeanenne Fontaine

CBC News Posted: Mar 15, 2017

A Winnipeg woman was shot in the head before her home was set on fire, her family says.

Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was found in a home on Aberdeen Avenue, between Powers Street and Salter Street, on Tuesday after reports of a fire which is now being investigated by the homicide unit.

Jeanenne Fontaine

Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was a kind, bubbly mother of three, says aunt Rhonda Flett. (Facebook)

The mother of three was rushed to hospital in unstable condition, but around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday she was taken off life-support, her family says.

They say Jeanenne was shot in the back of the head before the home was set on fire.

Her mother, Lana Fontaine, says Jeanenne’s brother was also at the home and heard the gunshot, but escaped unharmed.

The family is pleading for anyone with information to come forward to help them get answers.

Kind, full of laughter

Rhonda Flett, Jeanenne’s aunt, says her niece was a bright-spirited girl.

“She was a lively, beautiful Native girl … everybody wanted to be around her. She was kind. She liked to laugh. She made us laugh,” Flett said.

“She’s going to very missed. We’re going to miss her a lot. A piece of our family got taken and can’t be replaced.”

Flett says her niece moved into the home on Aberdeen Avenue following the death of Flett’s other niece and Jeanenne’s cousin, Tina Fontaine.

The 15-year-old was killed in August of 2014. Her death became one of the most well-known cases of murdered Indigenous women in the country, at a time many were calling for a national inquiry into unsolved cases.

Jeanenne shared the Aberdeen home with her mother, Lana, who Rhonda says is now homeless.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Lana Fontaine.

“She has nothing. She has no clothes, no furniture, nothing. She has nowhere to go,” Flett said. “All she’s concentrating on right now is her daughter.”

Flett said the family is desperate for answers.

“If anybody had answers out there for us, please come forward,” Flett said. “Our family needs closure. We’ve been through enough with Tina.”

Winnipeg police are asking anyone with information about the fire is asked to call police at 204-786-8477.

aberdeen house fire

Jeanenne Fontaine was found at this home on Aberdeen Avenue on Tuesday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Vigil planned for Saturday

Jeanenne’s death is the second time an Indigenous woman was shot and killed in Winnipeg in the past three days.

On Sunday, Shania Chartrand, 21, was shot and later died of her injuries. The young woman was from Lake Manitoba First Nation and Chief Cornell McLean said her death devastated the community.

RELATED: 

Kim Kostiuk, a volunteer with Drag the Red, said she was shocked and heartbroken at the pair of deaths and the news Jeanenne was related to Tina Fontaine. She’s organizing a vigil for Jeanenne on Saturday at the Aberdeen home.

Kim Kostiuk

Kim Kostiuk says she’s shocked and heartbroken by two deaths of Indigenous women in three days in Winnipeg. (Facebook)

“We want this to be out there. We want this to stop. We need this violence to stop,” Kostiuk said. “…We are human beings just like everybody else. We don’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this.”

Kostiuk said women in her community no longer feel safe and she wants to see change.

“We need more resources, for certain. We need more women’s shelters, definitely. More addictions programs,” she said.

“We need to do more marches to support women. We need to put it out there in the community. We need to do these vigils to let people know that we need to take back what is rightfully ours: the community. We need to stand up and say let’s stop this violence, we’ve had enough.

With files from Courtney Rutherford, Caroline Barghout

[SOURCE]

Tina Fontaine’s Alleged Killer Going Straight to Trial

Raymond Cormier will be directly indicted in a Winnipeg court on Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Andrich/ CBC)

Raymond Cormier will be directly indicted in a Winnipeg court on Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Andrich/ CBC)

Raymond Cormier will be directly indicted and will not have a preliminary hearing

By Katie Nicholson, CBC News Posted: Feb 21, 2017

The man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine will be directly indicted in a Manitoba court Tuesday afternoon.

A preliminary hearing had been scheduled for Raymond Cormier in May but that’s all out the window now. Cormier’s case will now proceed directly to trial.

“That is, quite honestly, a problem for us,” said Tony Kavanagh, the senior counsel on Cormier’s defence team.

“A preliminary inquiry is a very useful tool for the criminal justice system, Crown and defence alike,” said Kavanagh, a former Crown prosecutor.

“What it really allows us to do is to zone in on the key issues. Who are the main witnesses? What’s the key issue of contention in terms of this case and in a case as serious as this? It’s perhaps the most important tool the defence and Crown has.”

Without a preliminary hearing, Kavanagh said he and his client will have to sift through a vast volume of evidence without being able to hone in on the specifics of the case against Cormier.

“One of the difficulties, in fact, is because the preliminary inquiry was taken away from our client we have less of a chance to do what I would call the discovery process where we might test a few witnesses,” said Kavanagh. “That’s been yanked away from him.”

Lawyer Tony Kavanagh says preliminary hearing "yanked away" from client Raymond Cormier. (Lyza Sale/ CBC

Lawyer Tony Kavanagh says preliminary hearing “yanked away” from client Raymond Cormier. (Lyza Sale/ CBC

Cormier was charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine in December 2015 following a months-long elaborate Mr. Big Sting. Since that arrest, he has been in segregation, mostly at the Brandon Correctional Centre

Manitoba Department of Justice Prosecutions policy states “normally a preliminary inquiry should be held and a direct indictment should not be considered unless exceptional circumstances exist that outweigh the benefits of holding a preliminary inquiry.”

According to the policy, “overriding the right to a preliminary inquiry by preferring direct indictment is an extraordinary step.”

According to the province’s policy, the Crown can press for direct indictment if:

  • There is danger of harm, trauma or intimidation to witnesses or their families.
  • Reasonable basis to believe that witnesses will attempt to subvert court process.
  • The age or health of victims and witnesses is factor.
  • A lengthy court process creates a substantial inconvenience to witnesses.
  • The need to protect ongoing police work.

Perhaps most relevant to an investigation, which included a Mr. Big Sting, the policy states “the Crown can seek direct indictment if the outcome of the case will be largely dependent on the outcome of Charter challenges to Crown evidence that cannot be advanced at a preliminary inquiry,” for example, whether or not wiretap evidence could be used.

‘A great concern’

Kavanagh said he doesn’t know which arguments the Crown made to proceed to direct indictment.

“It’s always a great concern when the Crown takes this step,” said Kavanagh.

“It does bring with it consequent dangers and one of the dangers especially in a case with a Mr. Big — especially in a case with other tenuous evidence and our client strongly denies this allegation — it takes away that opportunity to discover,” said Kavanagh. “So it won’t be until the trial itself that we’ll actually get to see what we’re dealing with.”

Although rare, Manitoba Justice has granted direct indictments in high-profile cases before. In 2010, a preliminary hearing was scrubbed in the case against Denis Jerome Labossiere, who was later convicted of slaying his parents and brother.

A preliminary hearing was also scrubbed in the case of Jeffrey Cansanay who was facing charges of second-degree murder.  In 2007, the original case against Cansanay was thrown out after going straight to trial because two witnesses ended up refusing to testify. Cansanay was re-arrested, retried and convicted three years later.

Kavanagh said Cormier is disappointed and concerned by the decision.

“He thought it was yet another step in the process of curtailing what he sees as his rights, his ability to defend himself against some of the most serious charges in the criminal justice system,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh estimates the earliest a trial date will be set will be the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Crown attorney James Ross declined comment.

The direct indictment will also delay another legal matter Cormier is grappling with — an appeal before the Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA). Cormier filed a complaint in 2016 with LERA claiming Winnipeg police fabricated evidence against him in the death of Tina Fontaine.

Cormier had a LERA court date scheduled for Wednesday but it will now be put over to another date.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/iteam/raymond-cormier-tina-fontaine-direct-indictment-1.3991305

Tina Fontaine’s Family Frustrated But Hopeful Before MMIW Pre-Inquiry Meeting

Thelma Favel, the great-aunt of Tina Fontaine, has mixed feelings about MMIW National Inquiry as pre-inquiry meeting is held in Winnipeg. (CBC)

Thelma Favel, the great-aunt of Tina Fontaine, has mixed feelings about MMIW National Inquiry as pre-inquiry meeting is held in Winnipeg. (CBC)

CBC News, Feb 08, 2016

‘Why wasn’t it done even before Tina?’ asks Thelma Favel, Fontaine’s great-aunt and caregiver

Thelma Favel is feeling conflicted over the national inquiry into murdered and missing women as the pre-inquiry meeting gets underway in Winnipeg on Monday.

Tina Fontaine’s great aunt said sometimes she gets angry thinking about it.

“People were talking about the national inquiry for so long, but it wasn’t until after Tina was murdered was when it really went through,” Favel said.

Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in August 2014 and her death became a flashpoint for Canadians on the MMIW issue. Calls were renewed for a national inquiry. The federal government committed to it in December 2015.

“All of those women that went missing and were murdered; they were here for a reason too. So why wasn’t it done even before Tina?” she said.

Favel is talking about the more than 1,200 unsolved cases of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada.

“Because they were all human beings. They all mattered,” said Favel.

Winnipeg is the 11th stop for pre-inquiry meetings. Families are being asked for input on what the inquiry should look like and who should be involved.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett will meet with family members on Monday. She will speak to reporters during the noon hour.

Bernadette Smith witnessed the first meeting in Ottawa.

Her sister, Claudette Osborne, has been missing since 2008. She said it felt like the meeting was disorganized and families weren’t prepared.

Bernadette Smith

Bernadette Smith’s sister Claudette Osborne, has been missing since 2008. (CBC)

“People really didn’t understand,” Smith said about pre-inquiry expectations. “That first meeting, there was families coming in and telling their whole story.”

Smith said changes have been made. Now, family dialogue sessions are held the day before the pre-inquiry meeting to help families understand what input they will be providing.

“I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ve talked to other families that have already been through the process, and you know, it’s still flawed, but they’re learning as they go along,” Smith said. “We’re hoping that by the time they get to the actual inquiry that they’ve learned so much more.”

She’s also looking forward to sharing her own ideas.

“It’s got to be independent. The provinces have a responsibility as well as the police and that we need a family advisory committee,” she said.

But Smith said the biggest decision will be selecting a commissioner: “It’s needs to be an indigenous woman leading it.”

As for Favel, she’s looking at the price tag of what a national inquiry could cost. She thinks that would be better spent on programs, resources and 24-hour safe spaces for youth in urban centres and on reserve.

But she acknowledges the potential impact an inquiry could have.

“This thing will never bring Tina back, but if it’s going to help another child, then her death is not for nothing,” she said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/tina-fontaine-mmiw-pre-inquiry-winnipeg-1.3436452

‘A Kid Isn’t Supposed To Go Before Her Mom’: Tina Fontaine’s Mother On Her Death

Tina Duck, the mother of Tina Fontaine, visits memorial to her daughter beside the Red River in Winnipeg on Tuesday. (JOHN WOODS/GLOBE AND MAIL)

Tina Duck, the mother of Tina Fontaine, visits memorial to her daughter beside the Red River in Winnipeg on Tuesday. (JOHN WOODS/GLOBE AND MAIL)

The Globe and Mail | Published, Dec. 16, 2015

Standing outside the Winnipeg courthouse, Tina Fontaine’s mother looked over at the nearby remand centre where the man accused of killing her daughter is in custody.

In a rare interview with The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, a tearful Tina Duck recalled the moment she learned it was her child’s body that police had found in the city’s Red River in August of last year.

“I wanted to see my daughter,” she said. “I wanted to know if it was her or not. All they said was for us to just remember the way she looked, and then they described the tattoo on her back.”

Tina’s tattoo, which was dedicated to her father, who was beaten to death in 2011, was the identifying factor, given the state of the indigenous teen’s remains.

Provincial court documents say police believe 53-year-old Raymond Cormier killed Tina around Aug. 10, 2014 – one week before search divers who were looking for the remains of someone else happened upon her corpse, wrapped in plastic. Mr. Cormier has been charged with second-degree murder.

Proceedings related to his case were put over Tuesday and pushed forward to Jan. 8. Mr. Cormier’s lawyer, Pamela Smith, has told The Globe her client will contest the charges. She said she expects the Crown will provide her with a hard-drive of the evidence against Mr. Cormier by the end of the week.

In announcing the arrest last Friday, Deputy Police Chief Danny Smyth said Mr. Cormier, who has more than 80 convictions dating back to 1978, was taken into custody on Dec. 9 in the Vancouver area. Constable Jason Michalyshen, a police spokesman, confirmed in an e-mail on Tuesday that the arrest took place in Whistler, B.C.

Ms. Duck said she has never seen the man accused of killing her daughter, whose death galvanized the movement to end violence against indigenous women and provoked changes to the province’s child-welfare system. Red dresses, a symbol of Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women, hang at the snow-covered dock where Tina’s body was found.

Tina and her younger sister, Sarah, were mostly raised in rural Manitoba by their great aunt and uncle, Thelma and Joseph Favel, after the girls’ father, Eugene Fontaine, was diagnosed with cancer. The Favels placed Tina in Child and Family Services care in July, 2014, hoping she would get support services to help her cope with her father’s beating death.

Ms. Duck, who met Mr. Fontaine at a Winnipeg house party when she was 12 years old, fell into alcoholism years ago and left her girls with their father when they were toddlers.

She reconnected with Tina in her teenaged years, spending time with her in Winnipeg in July of last year. She said her daughter mostly stayed in the city’s West End, and does not know anything about the east-end residence police say Tina and Mr. Cormier frequented.

The Sagkeeng First Nation teen was last seen alive on Aug. 8, 2014. On that date, she was in contact with paramedics, a CFS contract worker and police, who did not take her into their care even though she was listed as a missing person. Tina, who had been assigned an emergency foster-care placement at a downtown Winnipeg hotel, was reported missing again on Aug. 9, 2014. Constable Michalyshen said police believe she was killed that day or the next.

Ms. Duck said that while she did not raise Tina, she misses her every day and her heart is broken that her daughter became one of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women.

“She would be 17 in January,” she said. “It’s not right. A kid isn’t supposed to go before her mom.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tina-fontaines-mother-reflects-on-her-daughters-death/article27778588/


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Man Accused Of Killing Tina Fontaine To Fight Charge

Raymond Joseph Cormier, 53, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine

Raymond Joseph Cormier, 53, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine

By Red Power Media, Staff

The man accused of murdering a 15-year-old indigenous girl will be fighting charge.

Raymond Cormier, the man accused of killing Tina Fontaine last year will be fighting his second-degree murder charge, his lawyer said.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail on Monday, Mr. Cormier’s defence attorney, Pamela Smith, said “we will be contesting the charges.” Ms. Smith, who has represented Mr. Cormier in the past, said she had yet to see the evidence against her client.

“[The Crown’s office is] sending me a hard drive later in the week with disclosure on it,” she said, adding that no decision has been made as to whether Mr. Cormier, who has an extensive criminal record, will seek bail. Proceedings related to his case were put over Monday and are now slated for Tuesday morning. Ms. Smith said Mr. Cormier will not appear in court at that time, and said she expects the case will be pushed forward again.

RELATED:

Police arrested Cormier in the Vancouver area on Dec. 9 and transported him back to Winnipeg.

Cormier is being held at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

Twitter

A provincial court document says police allege Cormier, originally from New Brunswick, killed Tina “on or about the 10th day of August in the year of 2014” – the first indication of a possible date of death since the girl’s body was pulled from the city’s Red River on Aug. 17, 2014. A Winnipeg Police Service spokesman said in an e-mail police believe she died Aug. 9 or Aug. 10.

The Sagkeeng First Nation teen was last seen alive Aug. 8 of last year. On that date, she was in contact with paramedics, a Child and Family Services contract worker, and police, who did not take her into their care despite the fact that she was listed as a missing person. Tina, who was in foster care had been placed at a downtown Winnipeg hotel.

Cormier’s criminal file contains at least 92 prior convictions across Canada, with recent offences involving crystal meth possession and assault with a weapon.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, lead investigator Sergeant John O’Donovan, declined to elaborate on the relationship between Tina and Cormier, or disclose the motive.

Sgt. O’Donovan told reporters: “Tina was a child – an exploited child … You guys can figure it out. There was definitely some exploitation going on.”

Drag The Red Volunteers Say Human Teeth Found By Red River

Drag the Red organizer Kyle Kematch holds an envelope containing what he believes to be four human teeth discovered near the Red River Monday, Sept. 14.

Drag the Red organizer Kyle Kematch holds an envelope containing what he believes to be four human teeth discovered near the Red River Monday, Sept. 14.

By Red Power Media, Staff

Volunteers with Winnipeg’s Drag the Red found what they believe to be human teeth Monday afternoon on the bank of the Red River. 

Drag the Red organizer Bernadette Smith said she received a message about possible remains on the banks of the Red River near Fort Gibraltar Monday.

The group that searches the banks and waters of Winnipeg rivers for clues to missing and murdered loved ones, found what they believe to be four human teeth buried among seashells.

The teeth were shown to a forensic anthropologist who confirmed the teeth were human and instructed them to call police.

Fellow organizer Kyle Kematch made the discovery.

He said he called police around 3:00 pm.

Kematch was still waiting for them to arrive at 6:45 pm.

He feels the police aren’t taking the discovery seriously and is frustrated with the slow response time.

Volunteers with Drag the Red searched along the banks of the Red River near the Disraeli Bridge in one of their regular searches. (CBC)

Volunteers with Drag the Red searched along the banks of the Red River near the Disraeli Bridge in one of their regular searches. (CBC)

Inspector Jamie Blunden with the Winnipeg Police Service told CTV News the call was put into queue immediately and dealt with based on priority.

Blunden said officers were on scene around 8:30 p.m.

At that time, more than 55 calls were in queue for the 27 police cars currently working to attend.

“We prioritize the best we can. As cars become available, we send them out,” he said.

Kematch showed the teeth to CTV News, but did not want media to take pictures out of respect in case they do belong to a human.

Volunteer group Drag the Red was formed to search the Red River after Tina Fontaine’s body was discovered there in August 2014.

Drag the Red hopes to continue searching until November.