Dear Tina Fontaine


author: annie trussler | op-ed editor

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I am angry for you, too. We are all angry.

I did not even know the name Tina Fontaine until a co-worker brought her name to my attention – then, following a surface-level investigation, her murder horrified me, and the treatment of said murder almost horrified me more. Raymond Cormier, a man several times Fontaine’s age, murdered her in Winnipeg, which triggered a refreshed look into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Canada.

Fontaine, at age fifteen, lost her life to cruelty, violence, and inhumanity; following her tragic end, The Globe and Mail made special note of the drugs and alcohol in Fontaine’s system at the time of her death. I am going to suggest something controversial: it doesn’t fucking matter if Fontaine was drunk, stoned, or anything else when she was murdered – she was murdered. Fontaine, a child, was denied her right to life because Cormier was an evil, evil human being. Any other factor is irrelevant.

This headline warranted an outcry from thousands across Canada, particularly from Indigenous communities that have been particularly wronged by these prejudices. Mention of alcohol and drug abuse in this case has distracted those paying attention from the tragedy to Fontaine’s misdemeanors. Everyone at age fifteen has done drugs, drank, and made innumerable mistakes – murder is not a mistake, it is an act against humanity, and Fontaine’s habits do not draw from that.

We know what this is about – Globe and Mail, we know what you are doing. The murder of a young Indigenous woman has brought attention back to the hundreds of missing and murdered women, and the predominantly white, proven racist, Canadian justice system does not want that conversation beginning again. The second this conversation reignites, the second we expect our judicial and political systems to fix this horrific wrong.

I know you cannot read this, Tina, but I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that you had to live in fear; I am so, so goddamn sorry this sick, twisted man took your life away from you. Despite headlines, despite racist conversation, you were a teenager with a beautiful future, and I am sorry.

I am angry for you, too. We are all angry.

Your Indigenous community is outraged – both for you, and your other missing and murdered sisters that have not found justice.

When considering the death of a child, you must remember that the victim here is just that: a child. As a parent, if your child lost their life, and all people focused on were how intoxicated they were, would you not be devastated? Outraged? Would we not demand our government to protect our children?

We have failed you, Tina Fontaine. We have failed you, we have failed your family, we have failed your sisters – we have failed so much, and we will continue to fail as long the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women are not protected under the law.

I am not spiritual, myself, but I found myself trying to send good vibes to Fontaine’s mourning family. I hope you do the same. Rest well, sweetheart.

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