Violence Against Indigenous Women | Tina Fontaine
In The Episode
Rasha Pecoraro 00:26
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to our new podcast, Facing Evil from Tenderfoot TV and iHeart Radio. We are your hosts. I'm Rasha Pecoraro.
Yvette Gentile 00:37
And I'm Yvette Gentile.
Rasha Pecoraro 00:39
And of course, we know that we're sisters, right?
Yvette Gentile 00:42
Are we Rasha?
Rasha Pecoraro 00:45
And apparently I like to do everything that my big sister does. And my big sister fell a few, a couple months ago, right before she had to do the New York City half marathon.
Yvette Gentile 00:57
And I don't fall. I'm not the clumsy one and I'm just putting that out there.
Rasha Pecoraro 01:00
I'm the clutsty one. And, Trevor, our beautiful producer, I need to tell you what I did this week. I fell down, I fell down the stairs. Okay. Well, I fell down the stair. I missed it.
Yvette Gentile 01:14
You fell down one step.
Rasha Pecoraro 01:16
I broke my big right toe because I want to be like my big sister. And yeah, so if you hear me wincing while we're talking about the case today. That is why Trevor. So.
Yvette Gentile 01:31
But the funny thing about that is you never, you never said to me, you said I fell down the stairs. And it wasn't until hours later that Vanna her wife is on the other line, laughing hysterically saying no, she she fell down a step.
Rasha Pecoraro 01:47
My foot got to stuck in my very large pant leg and I skipped a step and basically, I planted into the door jamb with my toe.
Trevor Young 01:56
Ouch. How's your pain level?
Rasha Pecoraro 01:59
Seven out of 10. So, you know, we might need to have pain relievers later. But regardless, so you know, I mean, there might be some tears today, but it'll be a mixture of the case that we're talking about. And my broken toe.
Yvette Gentile 02:18
Yes, yes, yes. And always we are so blessed and so lucky to have our amazing producer, Trevor Young. He is our, I like to call them our old soul.
Rasha Pecoraro 02:28
Yvette Gentile 02:29
And he is going to take us through the case today. So Trevor, it's all yours.
News Clip 02:35
Winnipeg Police reveals stunning new details today in a disturbing case about just where teenager Tina Fontaine was before she disappeared for good, and about just who might have been among the last to see her alive. The startling new report released today details just how support services failed the 15 year old before her death sparked national outrage. From the moment the body of 15 year old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River. The case has been high profile and politically charged.
Trevor Young 03:07
Today, we're digging into the case of Tina Fontaine, a young girl from the indigenous community in Manitoba, Canada. At the age of 15 years old, she was found dead in Winnipeg, in August of 2014. Tina's life up until her death was incredibly tough. With very little family support, resources, and a family history of substance abuse. It almost seemed as though Tina had very little hope for a stable life. And during the last year of her life, she had fallen into sex work and had been frequently reported missing. On one of those occasions, she never came home. On August 17, 2014, her body was found in the Red River. Witnesses identified one older man who they believed was responsible, since he was the last known person with Tina. He was charged but was eventually acquitted of the murder. And so the looming questions in this case are who killed Tina? Why wasn't she getting the support she needed? And how was her story indicative of a bigger problem, an epidemic of violence against indigenous women across North America?
Rasha Pecoraro 04:23
That's so true that you say that, Trevor? Because, yes, we're telling Tina's story. But really, we're telling the stories of all of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across Canada and the US. I had no idea how big of a problem this really was until we dove into Tina.
Yvette Gentile 04:44
Right? And that's why we really want to tell this story. It's a very important story to tell because when we say an epidemic, I mean the numbers are staggering, particularly in the Winnipeg area, you know, I found that it is 18.7% of the women and children were living in poverty? So that was about roughly 30,000 children and women.
Trevor Young 05:11
Yeah, I mean, in particular, the issue of violence against native women is particularly bad. I was looking at some research from the Native Women's Association of Canada, and they found that Native or Aboriginal women, 15 years or older, were actually three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. And then 54% of those Aboriginal women reported severe forms of family violence, versus only 37% of non-Aboriginal women. That's not a great number either. But the difference there is huge, right, almost 20%.
Yvette Gentile 05:45
Huge, staggering numbers. I know. And there's also from the same organization, they reported that indigenous women in the Canada's sex trade, I mean, get this 171 women were killed between 1991 and 2004. Guys, that is about 45% of those cases. I mean, they're still unsolved.
Rasha Pecoraro 06:11
That's, that's not okay. That's horrorific.
Trevor Young 06:13
Yeah. I mean, that's a, I guess, a huge theme for this case, right is, you know, these things happen. That's one piece of it. But then another piece of it is, that they're not given the same kind of attention, you know, that similar cases for non-native or white women get, you know, we've known about this as a cultural thing for some time. Now, you know, everybody, of course, is talking about Gabby Petito case, and why that was getting so much attention, when there are hundreds, thousands of Aboriginal and Native women who go missing or are murdered every year, and they don't get the same kind of attention or investigation. So hopefully, by talking about this, we can start to draw more attention towards those cases and, you know, maybe less away from the other side or, you know, at least find some equality there.
Rasha Pecoraro 06:57
Equality. That's, that's the word.
Yvette Gentile 07:01
That is the word and that is why we do this Rasha, right?
Rasha Pecoraro 07:04
Yvette Gentile 07:05
For this reason, so we can share their stories. And people will be aware that this is happening and not, you know, keep their blinders on.
Rasha Pecoraro 07:15
I have to say to like, first of all, I had no idea that the Center for Disease Control in the US I mean, I know it's called the CDC, because I think all of us have become very familiar with the CDC during this Coronavirus pandemic. But the CDC came out with a report that murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaskan Native women. And that rates of violence on reservations can be up to 10 times higher than the national average. So they need our help, these women and girls need us to talk about them. And not just the Gaby Petitos of the world.
Yvette Gentile 07:56
Rasha Pecoraro 07:58
But Tina was more than just a statistic, she was born into a situation familiar to many indigenous families. Trevor, what do we know about her parents and her upbringing?
Trevor Young 08:10
Yeah, it's interesting. I think Tina's family history is a pretty distressing example of something that happens to a lot of indigenous families. So first, I'll tell you about Tina's father and grandfather. Her dad was a guy named Eugene Fontaine. And he was a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. If I'm saying that correctly, I apologize if I'm not. And then his father, Tina's grandfather, was actually the survivor of a residential school. Do you guys know about residential schools?
Rasha Pecoraro 08:42
Well, I did some research on them. And I do know that residential schools were created in the late 1800s, to separate indigenous children from their parents and essentially stripped them of their identities. And it reminded me so much of what the Christian missionaries did in Hawaii, you know, trying to westernize everything, but yeah, I've heard horror stories.
Trevor Young 09:07
That's what they were like supposed to be is these kind of like schools to teach them on the ways of proper Western civilization, these indigenous communities, primarily children, but ended up being more like internment camps and the conditions were horrible. Many children died. You know, oftentimes, they were put up in these little shacks in the coldest, most desolate places in Canada. So really horrible.
Rasha Pecoraro 09:29
And so sad.
Trevor Young 09:30
I know, those sorts of experiences took a toll on that generation for sure, as you can imagine. So as a result, Eugene's Father, this being Tina's grandfather, ended up being an alcoholic and he ended up being a very abusive alcoholic. And so this kind of created a domino effect of trauma in their family. So, Eugene, Tina's dad, eventually left home at 12 years old, which is crazy, because he couldn't deal with his alcoholic abusive father, and he moved to Winnipeg. And so obviously this sort of chaotic upbringing was hard on him and he too developed an alcohol addiction. And so then there's Tina's mother. So Tina's mother was named Valentina Duck. She also went by Tina, and she belonged to the Bloodvein First Nation, which is also in Manitoba. She also suffered a number of traumatic events throughout her childhood, including sexual exploitation. She was removed from her family by the CFS, which is Child and Family Services at the age of 10. She spent a number of years being moved around before she met Eugene when she was just 12 years old. And by this point, I guess he was 23 or so. So she became pregnant with their first child, which would have been Tina's older sibling in 1994, which would have made her 14. So on January 1 1989, at the age of 17, Valentina, gave birth to Tina Fontaine, who we're talking about today. So Tina's father is 28 At this point, and the parents' relationship, as you can imagine, is very unstable, marked with substance abuse, violence, you name it. And as a result, poor Tina was left with her maternal grandmother for pretty much most of the time.
Yvette Gentile 11:16
That's just crazy, right to think about this, this little child. I mean, and things just get tougher for Tina, from that point over. I mean, over the next four years, Tina dealt with a ton, I mean, a ton of instability, as she was placed in and out of foster care. I mean, she was moved between her mother, her grandmother, and this is what kills me too, is like children are placed in these hotels by Child and Family Services. Why are children,
Trevor Young 11:50
Just like her mom?
Yvette Gentile 11:51
Yeah, but why are they put in these hotels? It? I? I can't, I don't comprehend that.
Trevor Young 11:57
I guess that's all they can do. I mean, it's the only kind of, you know, neutral, yeah, safe sleep with a bed. Right, you know, and all the amenities that you need to survive.
Yvette Gentile 12:06
I know. But it's like, any me you think about it, and it's like, but they can still come and go and leave. They're easily you know, there's like nobody really seriously monitoring them.
Trevor Young 12:16
Yeah, that'd be that does become a problem.
Yvette Gentile 12:18
Yeah. And for Tina, I mean, her life just from that point on got unbelievably worse. Tina's father, who you were speaking of, you know, earlier, Trevor, he got into a fight. And from what I understand it was over money, and he died from his injuries. I mean, I can only imagine how Tina took this news. And even though she didn't live with her father, like she still was extremely close to him, and was devastated by his murder. And, of course, like her family history, she became withdrawn and depressed. And she started using marijuana and doing all kinds of things right, just to cope with the loss. self medicating, right, ever dad, you know, and on top of that, she doesn't have her mother, her mother is in and out of the picture. Now your father has been murdered?
Trevor Young 13:15
Well, yeah. And keep in mind, too, you know, her dad dies in 2011. Tina herself was born in 1999. So she's around 12 years old, when she starts going through this self medication process, you know, starting to use various drugs.
Yvette Gentile 13:15
I know she's only 12 years old.
Trevor Young 13:28
Rasha Pecoraro 13:35
I've been thinking about this a lot. Because I always feel that like you always have a choice, right to break generational trauma, or to not repeat what your parents have done. And I I can only say like, for myself, like, my dad was, and is, an alcoholic and a drug addict. And I saw all of that. And I'm like, I was like, There's no way in hell, I'm ever going to be anything like that. However, I do know that I was blessed by having my sister Yvette and my mom, you know, because my mom and dad were not together, thankfully. But I wish that Tina had had, you know, that safe space, I think, and she actually I know we're referring to her as her grandmother, but biologically, it was her great aunt, but I think she was her safe space. And you know, her grandmother was just doing the best she could to try to protect Tina, but I can only imagine what it would have been like without, you know, that big strong presence in your life to tell you right from wrong.
Yvette Gentile 14:37
But again, you know, like Trevor said, you have to remember she's 12,
Rasha Pecoraro 14:42
Yvette Gentile 14:42
12 dealing with,
Trevor Young 14:43
She shouldn't have to.
Yvette Gentile 14:45
Exactly it should not be, it should not be her responsibility and like you did say Rasha like with her. Her great aunt, I think, you know, she did everything in her means that she could do she did all she could but there comes a point when, she, you don't know what else to do, right? So, right. It's just, it's just really sad.
Rasha Pecoraro 15:05
Yeah, it is so heartbreaking. And so two years after Tina's father was killed, were in the last year of Tina's life at this point. You know, she was skipping school regularly running away from home. And she was living, you know, with her grandmother, you know, great aunt at the time, since her own mother was so unstable, so her own mom didn't even come in after, you know, her dad was killed. But Tina's grandmother admitted that she didn't know how to help. And she refused help from, you know, CFS, from child, Children's Family Services. And I know that, you know, she was, like you said he bet she was doing the absolute best that she could,
Yvette Gentile 15:50
Right. I mean, back then, given those times, I'm sure she was doing what she thought was best, you know, at the time. But then in January of 2014, this was really a turning point for Tina and sadly, in in a very bad way, because on January 30th, she was rushed to the hospital after a suicide attempt and she had cut her wrist. But thankfully, the injuries that she that she had were minor, but she did tell the nurse that she was having suicidal thoughts. And according to Tina's grandmother, the hospital and the social services, didn't take any action to help her. I mean, that's she's right there. She's in the hospital. She's tried to commit or made an attempt right to commit suicide, get her some help. She's lost her father,
Rasha Pecoraro 16:47
Get her some therapy.
Yvette Gentile 16:48
She needs help. Yeah, she needs help.
Rasha Pecoraro 16:51
And then by April, Tina's grandmother was so worried about Tina's safety with everything you know, she had been doing and going through, she did finally reach out to CFS for support. Because at this time, Tina was experimenting heavily with drugs. She kept running away from home, and she was connecting with adult men online.
Yvette Gentile 17:11
Right. So all of this brings us to July 1st 2014. And Tina went to visit her mom in Winnipeg. Her grandmother had agreed to let her go, because the last time she had saw her mom, everything went well. So her grandmother said, I will give you this calling card and $50 and go see your mom.
Trevor Young 17:35
Sadly though, that was the last time her grandma would see Tina alive. And we'll talk more about what happened to Tina, after we take a quick break.
Rasha Pecoraro 17:48
All right, so Tina is now 15 and in Winnipeg, and things just get incredibly crazy and dark. From here on out.
Yvette Gentile 17:59
Oh my god. This is, okay. Let me just let me just tell you guys about this police incident. Three weeks later on July 17. The police were called because Tina was on the street. She was screaming while she was being dragged by some 18 year old male. And they both were drunk. The police had already picked them up. So they send Tina to a short term detox resource for youth. And she tells the nurses at the detox center that she had. Okay, get this you guys she had fifteen to twenty beers before the incident. And that this was her boyfriend that she was with. Can I just say I'm 53 and 130 pounds. If I was to have 15 to 20 beers, I would be comatose.
Rasha Pecoraro 18:55
You could not function.
Yvette Gentile 18:56
I would be comatose.
Rasha Pecoraro 18:57
Yeah. And she Tina was even though she was 15, like she looked, she had a very petite frame like I can only imagine. So for her to drink that much and be functioning?
Yvette Gentile 19:08
Right. She'd been doing it for a while.
Trevor Young 19:11
Well, at the end of the day. She's a child, right? That's the biggest thing is, she's a 15 year old. Nobody should be drinking alcohol at that age anyways, let alone you know, alcohol poisoning inducing amount of it.
Yvette Gentile 19:23
But yeah, I mean, you know, this is what she grew up, seeing her mother and her father, do the same thing. So it's a cycle that's just being repeated.
Rasha Pecoraro 19:34
Generational trauma is definitely a thing.
Yvette Gentile 19:38
Trevor Young 19:39
And speaking of her mother, obviously she was supposed to be with her mother at this point. And the question is, you know, why isn't she with her mom? Where's her mother? So as it turns out, we now know she was not staying with her mother really at any point during this time. On July 18, she ended up staying in a hotel provided by Children and Family Services. They actually discharged her after this without really any plan to support her after she got out. So the day that Tina was released from the hotel CFS lost track of her they couldn't find her. The agency contacted all of Tina's family members, including her grandmother, her mother, and no one knew where she was. You know, her mother had no idea where she was even though she was supposed to be visiting with her.
Yvette Gentile 20:23
Right. Where was your mother?
Trevor Young 20:25
Yeah. And so then on July 22, of 2014, Tina actually called her social worker and let her know that she was safe somewhere, staying with a boyfriend. And supposedly this is the same 18 year old who had been dragging her a few days ago.
Yvette Gentile 20:41
This is her, this is the boyfriend This is that guy again. Great, great.
Rasha Pecoraro 20:48
Great. Yeah. Okay, so no one was really sure at this point where Tina was even sleeping at night. She was bouncing around from different shelters. But she was actually officially reported missing on July 31st by the Winnipeg Police. So when they did locate her next on August 8th 2014, it was an awful situation.
Yvette Gentile 21:10
This is really tough to talk about because it, it really frustrates me how lost Tina was obviously getting, I mean, more and more out of control. The police pulled over a truck early in the morning for not using proper signals. And they find Tina, who gave them a fake name. And I believe the name she gave them was Tessa Twoheart. She's sitting there, physically sitting there in the passenger seat. The driver is drunk. And he's driving on a suspended license. The police, they impound the guy's truck, but then they let Tina go, even though she was listed as a missing person. Like is that's that's not doing your job.
Rasha Pecoraro 21:56
That is not doing your job. And it's totally ridiculous. And what's even worse is that just hours later, Tina was actually found unconscious in a back alley near the University of Winnipeg, in an area that's commonly known for sex work. And it's really hard for me to say this knowing that she was just a 15 year old girl, but Tina was found without clothes on from the waist down.
Yvette Gentile 22:28
But she did, I mean, she did thankfully get to a hospital. Thank God. And while she was there, she did tell her CFS worker that she was involved with a 53 year old man named Raymond Cormier.
Trevor Young 22:43
Yeah, so this is a pretty weird day, right? So if there's an incident with, you know, her getting pulled over, she's found behind, you know, this alleyway unconscious. This is all happening on the same day, which is August 8th, discharged from the hospital shortly thereafter. We do know the CFS puts her in a hotel that night as they tend to do, but she doesn't stay. She immediately leaves and CFS again loses track of her again.
Yvette Gentile 23:11
Again, again, geesh.
Trevor Young 23:14
You would think after something as horrible as being found unconscious, you know, being only halfway clothed as a 15 year old girl, that they would take more efforts to, like, make sure she stays in the hotel room,
Rasha Pecoraro 23:26
Keep her seen her safe.
Trevor Young 23:27
But clearly, they weren't really monitoring her.
Yvette Gentile 23:30
Right. And even I mean to, you know, when they take her to the hospital, like was she given a you know, did they do a rape kit? Right. She's, those are all questions.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:41
I will say too, on all the news reports that I've seen on Tina, that again, her death was like a wake up call. Right. And so I have read and I have listened to different shows, and they don't, CFS does not release children to hotels anymore. That's not something that's common practice in Canada, thankfully. Yeah. So.
Yvette Gentile 24:05
And also just a little sidebar, I was reading the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth and it was giving a detailed, like document on Tina's life, and those two officers that were that pulled her over, they were suspended and actually eventually let go. Yeah, so something something was done.
Trevor Young 24:30
Yeah, the incompetence in this whole case.
Yvette Gentile 24:34
Right, right. Okay, guys, so we need to talk about Tina's friend Katrina.
Rasha Pecoraro 24:41
Right. Katrina, the 18 year old who also spent time in the CFS shelters when she was young and was actually a friend of Tina's.
Yvette Gentile 24:50
Right from what we understand, I mean, Katrina was also the last person to see Tina alive. They had hung out together earlier in the day and they were together during that truck incident. And they were hanging out again, when a man approached Tina, about 3am.
Trevor Young 25:09
Right, and we're talking about 3am now of August 9. So really, this is a continuation of the events that happened on August 8th, all these things that we've been talking about like this is all within less than 24 hours. So according to CBC News, which covered this event, quote, "Katrina said they hung out until about 3am on August 9th, when a man approached them on a and offered to pay Fontaine money to perform a sex act. The friend said Fontaine accepted the offer, and told her she would be back in about 15 minutes. Katrina said she followed Fontaine and the man for about half a block, but it was too dark to see where they were going. She would say, I don't know, just something didn't feel right. I waited half an hour, and then time just kept on passing." And that was the last time anybody would hear from where see Tina.
Rasha Pecoraro 26:02
And sadly, two weeks later, on August 17, Tina's little body was found in the Red River. She had been wrapped up in plastic and a duvet comforter, and her body had been weighed down by rocks.
Trevor Young 26:18
So we need to take another break real quick. But when we come back, we will talk more about the investigation and everything that unfolded afterwards.
Yvette Gentile 26:30
The whole thing I mean, it's just it's so sad. It feels like as we've said earlier, there were so many pivotal moments where if someone would have just intervened, or took a moment, Tina would still be with us, she still would have had a chance.
Rasha Pecoraro 26:50
And I think what also like feels so unfair is that we have no idea how Tina died. We don't know what her cause of death was. Um, according to the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, the autopsy was inconclusive, there wasn't evidence of any physical trauma. And the condition of her body made it difficult to determine the cause of death. Is that Trevor is that more of a thing like when a body is found in water is it much harder?
Trevor Young 27:19
Well, bodies technically tend to decompose slower in water. However, the water does affect the body in ways that make it harder to identify or do an autopsy on properly. You know, bodies might bloat making it less clear if there are certain injuries that reveal certain things. The water might also wash away things like DNA or any other evidence. So I would say bodies that have been in water for a long time, are impossibly hard to do a proper autopsy on. So to me, this makes sense. But that just kind of adds to the tragedy of the whole situation.
Rasha Pecoraro 27:54
Trevor Young 27:55
All that said though, the police did have their suspect, even if they didn't know how she died. And of course, they pointed to Raymond Cormier. If you remember Cormier, was the person that she mentioned she had been with, the 53 year old man that she mentioned in the hospital when she was being interviewed by a CFS.
Rasha Pecoraro 28:13
Trevor Young 28:14
So according to the Winnipeg Police, Cormier and Tina had both stayed in the same home on the east side of the city, for how long we're not sure, but Cormier had a long list of criminal convictions. In total, he had something like 92 different offenses across four different Canadian provinces, which is crazy. So of course, the police are looking at this guy, and they do eventually arrest him, and they charged him with second degree murder. CDC also reported that, quote, ""he second degree murder charge was laid based on evidence gathered through forensic examinations, witness interviews and covert operations." Of course, Cormier chose to plead not guilty.
Rasha Pecoraro 28:55
So let's talk about the trial. It began on January 29th 2018. And it included witness testimony from someone named Tyrell Morrison. And from what I found is that Tyrell was was 30 years old, and he basically was drinking buddies with Raymond and he drank with Raymond and Tina. And so Tyrell Morrison actually testified that he saw Tina and Raymond arguing because he had sold Tina's bike frame for drugs.
Yvette Gentile 29:28
And other witnesses testified that they saw the two of them together. So Tina, with this 53 year old man leading up and on August 8th, the day she actually went missing,
Trevor Young 29:40
Right. So as of this point, we have a lot of witnesses kind of having them together. But in the trial, there's really no forensic evidence being presented or direct eyewitness testimony and by direct, I mean, what eyewitness testimony pointing to him and her, like during In the murder or the killing or sometime around there. So really this case was built around secret recordings made of Cormier by the police. And in these recordings he talked about finding Tina's killer talked about her death. According to CBC he, quote, "seemed obsessed with Tina's killing." And the prosecutors in this case. Jim Ross and Brett up Hassler pointed to these recordings as his primary evidence of guilt.
Yvette Gentile 30:28
Well, ultimately, Cormier was acquitted on February 22nd 2018. So what do you guys think about this? Like, do you think he did it? Do you think Katrina did it? Like, what is your take? I mean, I am a little torn. Like, I think it could have possibly been just a John, because Katrina said that, you know, she went off with this man at 3am. And she had agreed to do some sexual act with him. Right. So it could have just been some crazy John. Right. Yeah.
Rasha Pecoraro 31:01
That's the theory I'm leaning towards is is, uh, John, like, I don't I don't, I can't see why Katrina would have any kind of motive to do that. But I think that authorities pinpointed and we're trying to get, you know, Cormier as the guilty party, because that was the easy route. Right? Like, when you're trying to look for a John, like, obviously, like, they're not going to use their name. I mean, like, there's, there's so much more work that they have to do. I have a feeling that it was whoever she left with that night, when Katrina last saw her. That's my guess, what do you what are you leaning towards Trevor?
Trevor Young 31:40
You know, I hesitate to really jump to a conclusion in a case like this, I think it's another case where a body is so decomposed, the remains so degraded, that we don't really have any evidence or concept of like, what happened or who it could have been, you know. So the longer that a body is left out, or is decomposed, the less chance you have to like, really draw any clear conclusion. So I mean, in short, like, I don't know, and I've kind of accepted that I will never know. I mean, it could have been this Cormier, fellow. But at the end of the day, I mean, I think the way it worked out in the legal proceeding is accurate. I mean, if all you have is this kind of circumstantial evidence based off of these phone calls, that's just not enough to convict, that it's not enough to draw conclusion in second degree murder. So I really don't know. I don't have an answer. And, you know, I think the bigger takeaway for me in this is that we could have known Right, right, like, if enough people had done better, we could have had a better idea there could have been a better investigation, and maybe things would be more clear. So that's what I'm most mad about, I think when I hear about this case,
Rasha Pecoraro 32:49
So after Cormier, you know is acquitted. The Manitoba indigenous leaders put out a statement that criticized the government for what had happened to Tina and I am going to pronounce this name with all of the respect that I have in my soul. So if I mispronounce it, I am so sorry, but I am definitely trying. But this is a very important quote. And it comes from the key Watsa naui okie Maka knock grand chief, Sheila North. And Sheila said, "We as a nation need to do better for our young people. We've all failed her."
Yvette Gentile 33:33
That is such a powerful statement. I mean, and that resonates so deep, I'm sure to all of us. If we think about it, the CFS, the police, her parents. I mean, there, there were so many times that Tina could have been helped. Absolutely right. But with that being said, there is some light in this story. After Tina's murder, as well as the murders of many other indigenous women. There have been numerous social movements and legislative efforts that came through to support women in both Canada and the US. Finally.
Rasha Pecoraro 34:17
So yes, in 2016, the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was formed. It's a commission that operates independently of the Canadian government and has brought to light the violent and dangerous realities that indigenous women face every single day. So as we've already mentioned, Aboriginal or native women, 15 years or older are three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. And 54% of Aboriginal women reported severe forms of family violence versus 37% of non-Aboriginal women. And in the United States, The National Crime Information Center reported in 2016 that there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaskan Native women and girls, but the US Department of Justice's federal missing persons database NAMUS only logged 116 cases.
Yvette Gentile 35:20
That's just mind boggling.
Rasha Pecoraro 35:22
Yvette Gentile 35:22
Okay, so I'm going to tell you about some really good things that came out of this. In March of 2018, a 24/7 space called, Tina's Safe Haven was open on Selkirk Avenue in Tina's memory. The shelter provides around the clock support and resources for the Winnipeg youth and this was made possible by a $350,000 grant from the Canadian government. This grant was huge for them.
Rasha Pecoraro 35:54
So and more recently, in October of 2020, then President Trump actually signed Savannah's Act into law. The act was co-sponsored by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. And it provides resources and increases coordination across government agencies to help solve cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. And this legislation is actually named after a real person. Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind was a 22 year old indigenous woman who was abducted and killed in North Dakota in 2017. And, ironically, and sadly, her body was also found in the same river, the Red River, that Tina Fontaine's body was found in. So there is still so much more work to do to protect these young girls. But hopefully, by sharing Tina's story, we can help put a face to these issues that are happening in these native communities. You know, I have a very inquisitive, 10 year old. I mean, Yvette knows her her niece, my daughter, Leilani, she wants to know everything,
Yvette Gentile 37:20
Rasha Pecoraro 37:20
Everything. And at 10 years old, you know, and being you know, descendents from an accused serial killer, you can only tell her so much. So I tell her little things, but she hears her mommy and her Auntie, you know, talking about the cases we're doing on Facing Evil. So she was asking me about this one. And I almost actually broke down in tears talking about it, because I was about to say, you know, a young Indigenous woman named Tina Fontaine was murdered. But I couldn't get those words out of my mouth. I said, a young girl was murdered, who was only just a few years older than you, Leilani. Like and she was asking all kinds of questions she wants to know about her family, her upbringing, and she even said, she's like, I'm sure she just was really sad that her dad was killed. And so she that's why she went down a dark path. And I'm like, oh my god, from the mouths of babes. But, you know, it just, I think it's important to tell Leilani and tell the world all these stories, you know, we have to tell people that things are going on so that it can stop.
Yvette Gentile 38:27
Right and we have to tell it so those that are not aware that this is happening, or, or I should I say those that want to stay in a bubble, right, you know, that we have to change it, we have to change it. So we have to share their stories.
Rasha Pecoraro 38:44
Yeah, it's important to tell the world who Tina Fontaine was, so we can help other missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across the world. And now it's time for the last segment of our show, our imua. And imua means to move onward and upward, and to move forward. It's our final message of hope and healing.
Yvette Gentile 39:14
That's right Rasha and our imua today needs to be a loud roar, a call to action. We need to bring more attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and children all across the US and Canada. We really need to tell their stories. People need to know who they are, and we need to hold people accountable and lift them up.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:45
I couldn't agree more. And my call to action however small it may seem, is for all of us to follow social media content creators, indigenous creators, like Eugene Brave Rock, Candi Brings Plenty and the MMIP, which is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People and Mutual Aid Organization. Follow them, support them and help humans like Tina. I believe this is a way we all can move onward and upward. Imua.
Yvette Gentile 40:18
Imua. Well, that is our show for today. We would love to hear what you thought about today's discussions. And if there is a case that you'd like us to cover, please find us on social media or email us at email@example.com. Until next time,
Rasha Pecoraro 40:39
Trevor Young 41:07
Facing Evil is a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The show is hosted by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile. Matt Frederick and Alex Williams are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio with producers Trevor Young, and Jesse Funk. Donald Albright and Payne Lindsey, our executive producers on behalf of Tenderfoot TV, alongside producer Tracy Kaplan. Our researcher is Claudia Dafrico. Original Music by Makeup and Vanity Set. Find us on social media, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org For more podcasts from iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot TV, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.