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“Safe and sound”

After going missing earlier this week Tina Fontaine’s missing sister has been found

Tina Fontaine’s missing sister has been found

The sister of Tina Fontaine, whose murder fuelled a national call for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, has been found after going missing earlier this week.

Local RCMP sent out a missing person’s notice on Monday, stating that 16-year-old Sarah Fontaine was last seen Sunday morning. However, as of early Tuesday afternoon, Manitoba RCMP said they’d found Sarah Fontaine “safe and sound” and thanked the public for their assistance in locating her.

“All I wanted was for her to be found safe and sound and to go back home.”

“All I wanted was for her to be found safe and sound and to go back home. I was just crying when [a social worker] told me she was found,” Thelma Favel, the Fontaine sisters’ great aunt, told the Canadian Press on Tuesday.

Sarah’s older sister Tina was murdered in the summer of 2014. Her body was found wrapped in plastic in the Red River 10 days after she was reported missing on August 7. Tina’s murder sparked national outrage over the inadequate resources given to investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women, spurring calls for a national inquiry.

Police have charged 54-year-old Raymond Cormier with second degree murder in Tina’s death, and Manitoba Justice has signalled that he will go straight to trial without a preliminary hearing.

Favel said that Tina and Sarah were inseparable.

“They were always together, and then when she lost Tina, she felt she just lost everything,” Favel told the Canadian Press. “There were just too many memories that she never really faced.”

“They were always together, and then when she lost Tina, she felt she just lost everything.”

Sarah was living in a foster home at the time of her disappearance, and was moved there “for her own safety because she had so many suicide attempts when she was here, because of all the memories of her dad and her sister and not knowing how to deal with them,” Favel told the Winnipeg Free Press Monday.

Sarah and Tina’s father, Eugene Fontaine, was beaten to death on the Sagkeeng First Nation in 2011, for which two men pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

In mid-March, Sarah’s cousin Jeanenne Fontaine was murdered in her north Winnipeg home. The 29-year-old was shot in the back of the head before the home was set ablaze.

“[Sarah] talked about it. She just wanted to know what was happening to the Fontaine family — why they were being murdered,” Favel told the Canadian Press.

Favel said that, given that three of her family members were murdered within the past few years, Sarah needed more help than she was getting in foster care.

“She just wanted to know what was happening to the Fontaine family — why they were being murdered,”

Sarah decided to start a family of her own following Tina’s death, and she had a child who she named Victoria Tina Lynn after her sister. The little girl lives with her and her foster family.

Favel said that Sarah and her child showed up at her home in Sagkeeng — around 100 kilometres north of Winnipeg — last Thursday. However, Sarah was driving her foster mother’s vehicle, so Favel called the RCMP who arrived and separated mother from daughter.

That separation hurt Sarah, and Favel said that Sarah phoned her Sunday night “pretty well out of it, drunk partying.” Favel heard male voices in the background, and wasn’t aware at the time that Sarah was reported missing.

The RCMP released a report in late 2013 detailing the number of homicides and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls between 1980 and 2012. That report found that 1,181 cases of homicide and disappearances were reported over that time. However, the Native Women’s Association of Canada estimates that the number is much higher, saying it’s closer to 4,000.

The federal government launched a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women following their election in late 2015 although families have been critical of the pace of progress, with testimony only starting in May.

 

Cover: RCMP Manitoba/The Canadian Press

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