OTTAWA – “Children are our most sacred gifts from the Creator, and the systems that should be protecting them are failing them. I continue to offer support to the family and friends of Tina Fontaine as they seek justice and healing,” states Chief Perry Bellegarde the Assembly of First Nations National Chief.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the report released by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth underscores the need to address long-standing failures in approaches by governments across a range of systems, including education, health and mental wellness, and victim support services, in regard to the care and safety of First Nations children.
Report a Clear Call for Action
Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Daphne Penrose this morning released a special report published after an investigation in accordance with The Advocate for Children and Youth Act. The report, A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine, contains five recommendations directed at the Manitoba government, government systems and public bodies. It was released in Tina Fontaine’s home community of Sagkeeng First Nation and aims to uncover truths and honour Tina Fontaine’s legacy.
The 115-page report contains pointed comments on the impacts of colonialism, specifically stating that Tina Fontaine “carried a burden that was not her own”. It offers five recommendations in the areas of education, health and mental wellness, victim support services and child and family services. Ms. Penrose revealed her office will be tracking government compliance with the recommendations publicly.
The August 2014 death of 15-year old Tina Fontaine drew national attention and highlighted the national priority of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Raymond Cormier was acquitted of second-degree murder charges by jury in February 2018.
First Nations have called for changes to the justice system in Canada, including increased representation by First Nations on juries and support for First Nations approaches to justice, including restorative justice.
Following years of pressure and advocacy for action and reform, last month the federal government introduced federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare that recognizes First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services.