The Tina Fontaine Aftermath – Where do we go from here?

Tina Fontaine (FB)

The reaction was heartbreaking, painful and visceral.

Raymond Cormier found not guilty of killing Tina Fontaine.

“How could it be?”

A question so many have asked…

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North addressed the media outside the law courts mere moments after hearing the verdict;

“This is a very difficult and tremendously sad day for our people. This is not the outcome anybody wanted. The systems, everything that was involved in Tina’s life failed her. We’ve all failed her. We as a nation need to do better, all of us.”

For the most part, North’s message was one of despair, anger and regret.

It was also inclusive.

The prevailing message in her remarks highlighted the need for all of “us” to share responsibility for the tragic loss of Tina Fontaine.

Contrast that with messages from other Indigenous leaders…

Dennis Ward (APTN – Twitter)

Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations had a different message.

His message was to blame.

Bellegarde was quick to blame the child welfare system, police and the courts.

It seems a somewhat narrow view if you followed the story of Tina Fontaine’s tragic life.

In reality, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Plenty of blame for all of “us.”

Indigenous people from across the Country took to social media to express their pain and anger.

One of the central themes to emerge was the anger expressed towards what many perceive is a systemically racist justice system designed to protect non-Indigenous people.

That sentiment unabashedly expressed by @Amanda2Braids on Twitter shortly after the verdict was read…

Amanda Nichole (Twitter)

“All I know is they protected a racist in Sask and let a pedophile go in Winnipeg.”

I noticed her tweet was re-tweeted by the Grand Chief. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean she agrees with or endorses the sentiment expressed in the message.

But it did make me wonder.

I find the connection people are trying to make between the Fontaine and Boushie cases perplexing.

I’m not alone.

Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck wrote;

“There will be temptations to draw parallels between this trial and the case of Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer who was acquitted earlier this month in the shooting death of 22-year-old Indigenous man Colton Boushie.”

He continued;

“People should be very careful about drawing those parallels because there aren’t any.”

(Brodbeck went on to highlight the fact the jury in the Cormier case was diverse and reflective of the community. This of course, was not the case in the Stanley trial.)

I, for one, agree with Brodbeck’s assessment.

There is no rational connection between the Fontaine and the Boushie cases.

That view is certainly not unanimous…

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North (Twitter)

“All of us should be ashamed of what happened to her, and to Colten Boushie and to others,” said Grand Chief North outside the courthouse.

I’m not sure what aspects of the cases the Grand Chief connects, other than the obvious, both Fontaine & Boushie were young Indigenous people who died long before they should have.

Both cases are tragic in many ways.

The similarities essentially end there.

The perspectives on the Boushie case seem to be largely divided along racial lines.

It seems the majority of Indigenous people see Boushie as a victim, while the majority of non-Indigenous people see him as the author of his own demise.

These conclusions are easy to draw if you read a newspaper or have any presence on social media.

So where do we go from here?

The case against Raymond Cormier was a difficult one.

The result was not shocking to those of us with experience in these matters.

The case lacked the kind of overt evidence jury members want to rely on.

There was no DNA, no eyewitness, no confession and no smoking gun that made it easy for them to convict.

The case was primarily built on circumstantial evidence.

Raymond Cormier (Handout)

Police worked the case hard.

It was clearly difficult to investigate.

The use of undercover operations, like the “Mr. Big” sting used in the investigation, tells us the Winnipeg Police Service pulled out all the stops in their efforts to secure justice for Tina.

These operations are extremely labour intensive and expensive to run.

The number of hours put into the case, I’m sure, are astounding.

Police don’t make up the evidence.

They work tremendously hard to discover it, to disclose it and present it in a court of law.

Some cases are easier than others.

They took their shot, and it didn’t work out.

The effort was there.

The jury has spoken.

We must accept their decision and learn from it where we can.

Just don’t expect the police to re-open the case and start looking for a phantom killer.

The police believed Raymond Cormier was Tina’s killer.

If they didn’t believe it, they would never have petitioned Manitoba Justice to lay murder charges against him.

If the Crown Prosecutor’s didn’t believe Cormier was the killer, they would have never authorized the charge.

The reality is, sometimes killers elude justice.

That includes Indigenous killers and non-Indigenous killers.

That knife cuts both ways.

That’s just the way it is.


  1. Did Mr. Brodbeck come to these conclusions intoxicated behind the wheel of a motor vehicle perhaps?

  2. That’s a convenient statement of facts, however as pointed out in news stories, the Cdn legal system did work as intended, as created. I didn’t have to list details repeatedly because they are already printed several times. There are numerous opinion pieces that file these too.

  3. James G Jewell


    I agree.

    The jury has spoken.

    We accept their verdict and try and learn from it.

    Nothing much else we can do.

  4. James G Jewell

    Blog Woman;

    I read your comments several times but can’t quite grasp you point other than racial bias contributed to the results in both the Stanley and Cormier trials.

    The recordings of confessions?

    Stanley admitted that the killed Mr. Boushie but claimed it was accidental, a fact the jury seemed to accept.

    Cormier denied the murder and his defence team provided contrary interpretations of the alleged “confessions.”

    The jury in the Cormier case weren’t convinced there was enough evidence to convict and acquitted him.

    Ultimately, the case was thin – no DNA, no fingerprints, no eye-witness, no confession upon arrest.

    There just wasn’t enough evidence to convict.

    It is what it is.

  5. The system, which you completely buy into, is responsible for both deaths. There’s no ‘hard evidence’ is strictly a view & one which is not shared by the many people – many of which are not Indigenous. The recordings of confessions for both cases is a rather large point to overlook. Convenient for both white murderers. The system worked exactly as it was meant to. It worked exactly as it was created to. It is so believed in, that to ignore into account the perspectives of another wide swath of people shows how deeply ingrained the biases are. That’s the number one issue in both cases.

  6. These Chiefs sure know how to blame everybody, Police, Justice System, CFS for the Indigenous people’s short comings.

    Be a nice change if they admitted that they have failed in their leadership.

    They are busy trying to hustle more money from the tax payers that they have neglected their own people.

    Possibly spending time showing your youth that hard work and education like you have pays dividends.

    Spend some more time doing motivational speaking and less time pointing fingers at everybody but yourselves!!!

  7. James G Jewell


    The majority of Indigenous women and girls are killed in domestic or family violence, or by someone who is known to them.

    Her suspected killer Raymond Cormier was known to her.

    Only a very small percentage of Indigenous women who are murdered are killed because of their participation in the sex trade.

    The same can be said for non-Indigenous women.

    That assessment is supported by the RCMP National Operational review reports submitted a couple of years ago.

    The issues surrounding violence against Indigenous women is multi-faceted and complex.

    I believe we have more than enough data to understand the issues and to effect positive change.

    Unfortunately, the majority of people who have decision making authority prefer to continue to study the issue and support redundant undertakings like the MMIW inquiry, which we have seen implode over the last several months.

  8. It’s sad that she and all the other women were murdered. But blaming all white folks is missguided. Hopefully the MMIW commission is looking at why all there girls and ladies are running away from home and becoming hookers. Send to me that if they had proper parenting and a good home life, they won’t feel the need to leave. Maybe their communities need funding to bring in activities that promote growth

  9. Herb Stephen

    It is very evident that the Winnipeg Police went all out in the investigation of the Tina Fontaine murder.

    Countless hours of investigation went in to finding the killer and every lead was followed; including the seldom used Mr. Sting operation.

    Unfortunately, the smoking gun could not be found.

    No doubt the Homicide unit did everything they could to solve this case and should not be faulted for the final result from the jury.

    Herb Stephen

  10. I see the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for a royal commission into the Stanley and Cormier verdicts. They can’t seem to accept the jury verdicts rendered and it looks like they believe that these people were arrested and went to trial, so they must have been guilty. These juries could not reach a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Share your thoughts - we value your opinion!