Fontaine's death puts focus on missing, murdered aboriginal women

Fontaine’s death puts focus on missing, murdered women

Eleven years before 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River wrapped in a bag, the same riverbank was the setting for another tragedy


WINNIPEG – Eleven years before 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from the Red River wrapped in a bag, the same riverbank was the setting for another tragedy.

Felicia Solomon Osborne didn’t return home from school in March 2003.

Frustrated by what they felt was lack of action from police in finding the 16-year-old, her family members put up their own missing posters.

Three months later, one of Felicia’s arms and a leg were pulled from the same spot where Tina’s body would later be found.

Felicia’s killer has never been caught.

Neither has Tina’s.

But a lot has changed when it comes to awareness of the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

When Tina’s body was discovered in August, Winnipeg police held an emotional news conference where a sergeant said “society should be horrified” by the violent death of a child.

More than 1,000 people took to the streets to call for action. Dozens camped in the shadow of the Manitoba legislature for weeks as they repeatedly called for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked about her death.

That didn’t happen when Felicia was killed.

“Nobody connected with Felicia Solomon Osborne and yet that was some of the most savage levels perpetrated,” said Nahanni Fontaine, special adviser on aboriginal women’s issues for the Manitoba government. “Her mom, all she got back, was a leg and an arm. She was only 16, only a year older than Tina.”

The issue reached a boiling point in 2014 with Tina’s death and an attack a few months later on 16-year-old Rinelle Harper. Rinelle survived, agreed to be named publicly and has since spoken about the need to end violence against women.

The RCMP issued a landmark report in 2014 which put the total of missing and murdered aboriginal women at 1,181. Although indigenous women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, the report found they account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

“Our message is getting across that this a Canadian problem,” said Alberta regional chief Cameron Alexis with the Assembly of First Nations. “We have to be concerned. There is something wrong here.”

Bernadette Smith has been waiting a long time for such awareness.

Her sister, Claudette Osborne, left behind four children when she disappeared in 2008. To this day, Smith doesn’t know if her sister is alive or dead. When her nightmare first began, Smith couldn’t get anyone who hadn’t also lost a loved one to care.

That’s all changed, she said.

“The conversation has switched. Other people are getting involved that aren’t directly connected,” Smith said. “When you find a 15-year-old’s body dumped in the river like they’re garbage, you start to think maybe that could have been my daughter or my sister or my niece.”

Smith has been calling for a national inquiry for years, but after Tina’s death many more joined her.

The federal government has so far refused, saying it is more interested in taking action than studying the issue. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Tina’s death was not part of a “sociological phenomenon,” but rather a crime and should be treated as such.

The federal government agreed to attend a roundtable meeting after Canada’s premiers emerged from their annual meeting in August calling for a national forum. It’s expected to be held in February.

Hopes are high the issue can sustain public attention well into next 2015. Advocates suggest the roundtable, which Harper will not be attending, is just the beginning.

“I want to say something positive about it – it sounds promising – but that’s about all I can say,” said Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson. “The federal government has to be really, really serious. They have to come with an open mind and an open heart and not tell us what they’ve put our money towards.

“I don’t want to hear that. I’ve heard that all my life.”

A spokesman for Kellie Leitch, the federal minister responsible for the status of women, said the minister was busy with cabinet committees and didn’t have time for an interview on the subject.

Andrew McGrath sent an emailed statement on Leitch’s behalf saying the government takes crimes against aboriginal women and girls “very seriously.”

He noted the Conservatives have earmarked $25 million over five years on ways to address crimes against aboriginal women. One project is for development of community safety plans both off and on reserves, as well as initiatives to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse.

That isn’t likely to be enough to keep the issue from resurfacing in the upcoming federal election, slated for next fall.

Both the Liberals and the Opposition New Democrats have promised to call a national public inquiry if elected.

Michele Audette, former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said she has accepted the roundtable, but the idea for a national inquiry hasn’t passed.

“We have so many spokespeople who will bring this issue everywhere they go,” said Audette, who recently stepped down to run federally for the Liberals. “We have artists. We have musicians. We have politicians. We have all kinds of people who will work for that cause,” she said.

“The only (side) … missing right now is the Harper government.

“That’s the way it is.”


Fontaine’s death puts focus on missing, murdered women

  1. The stats don’t lie……

    The biggest threat to aboriginal women, is aboriginal men.

    No inquiry will change what is happening to these women and girls. It has to start on the Reserve.

    • Thank you for post the RCMP that debunks your assumptions. The report states that there is not enough community by community data to make any geographical assumptions. The RCMP report does show it is non-Aboriginal women that are in more danger of their partners and people known to them. The report shows that Aboriginal women are most attacked by strangers.

      How we all treat each other before we become statistics is the “community” that the RCMP report mentions five times. Facts not assumptions and stereotypes is where we all start to solve this pocket of violence and societal desperation.

      It is still very curious and suspect on the who and why it was decided to start the MMIW count at the year 1980. Our forever mutually intertwining societies have been together long before 1980.

      • Michael Yellowwing Kannon,

        I suggest you have a closer read of the report. Geographical assumptions are for WHERE this is happening in the country. Frankly, it doesn’t matter where it is happening, what matters is WHO IS DOING IT. In both aboriginal, and non-aboriginal murders, it is usually someone who is close to the victim. This is why we don’t need to spend Millions of dollars to find out what we already know. Most women are killed by someone they know…regardless of race. My comment about aboriginal men being the biggest threat to aboriginal women, would apply equally to non-aboriginal men. The topic of this thread however is aboriginal women.

        I don’t know how you conclude that most aboriginal women are attacked by strangers…..the report states the opposite.

        I do agree with your reference to “societal desperation” as I think life on many reserves is quite despondent. The sexual, and physical violence is often the result of alcohol consumed on reserves due to this despondency, and sense of hopelessness. If you want a society to work, you need to have a community that sees a future for themselves, and their children. That means reserves need to embrace the concept of looking after themselves and having a sense of pride. Many reserves work rather well, while it is the most terrible (attawaspikat) that get the media attention.

        I suspect, those reserves that are the most remote, the most poor, and the most hopeless are where many of these victims come from.

        If you want to fix the problem….you need to address it honestly.

        Just having another inquiry won’t do this. It is just an excuse for not taking action now to address the problem, and will allow a lot of leech lawyers to enrich themselves.

        (Look at the lawyers from the Residential school cases. The Lawyer who handled the case was a Liberal, and his wife is a Liberal senator. The victims were awarded about $12,000 on average, and the Lawyer who handled the case pocketed over $50 MILLION for himself. How does that help people?)

        No inquiry.

  2. Native Women, et al, Expectations of Freedom of Fear of Retribution in
    Due Diligence Info SHARING “Consultations”; Deliberate,
    Illegal, &/or, Unethical DEPRIVATION of INFO Re; “Domestic” & Foreign
    Treaties. Political interference of RCMP Investigations ‘kills’ victims & Rank & File
    RCMP officers.

    CORPORATE CANADA & its “FOREIGN” ASSOCIATES, TERRIFIED if Native Male Political Leaders Implicated in “Disappearing” Native Women’s Advocates. Prefers Limelight on “Race” not Shareholders’ Dividends versus harmless NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native.

    HUMAN NATURE; How Cultures & Traditions can be used to explain Bullying & Info Deprivation to Protect the Power of “Death-Pots”. PREVENTION of RACIAL “STEREOTYPING” with DISTINCTION may HELP?

    The Fanning the Flames of “Sort of RACISM”
    Haven’t The “Nationalistic” (Pre Global Economy) Corporate Canada & its Lobbied Politicians Done Rather Well via Fanning The Flames of “Sort of RACISM” & Feathering Their Nest to Enable Their SHAREHOLDERS & those of Their Assocs. to SUE the harmless NON Shareholders, both; Native & non Native in the Latest “Foreign” Treaties/Arrangements?

    Corp.Can Desperate to KILL WAD Accord’s COMPENSATION for Depriving Native Canadians of Treaty Info Including CETA, TPP, C-CIT, NAFTA, Shareholders arrangements? More Political Interference of RCMP to Continue?

    After reading about the fears of retaliation of the Native Canadian women at the Special House of Commons Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, by powerful chiefs & councils for questioning & improving the chiefs/councils plans & decisions, etc., it has been suggested that it might be easier to minimize any potential for negative gstereo typingh of Native chiefs & their councils by:
    1) the most vulnerable Native community members (95% – 99% of the members of Native communities),
    2) non Native funders of Native communities
    3) et al,
    by pointing out once again, but, with greater emphasis, that the most vulnerable community members, both; Native & non Native, are slowly & painfully becoming aware of the threat that is posed to the bullying, information depriving despots (Death-Pots) by way of the sharing of the relevant information, in forums that have eliminated the fear of retaliation.

    And, therefore, in regard to the recent, June 5, 2014, comments by the grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Gordon Peters about negative “stereotypes”, it has also been suggested that Mr. Peters needn’t be concerned as Native & non Native Canadians have made:
    1) the distinctions between the bullying despots & the most vulnerable community members
    2) the distinctions between those chiefs & councils that want/need their community members to start getting the relevant information, including the information & questions in The WAD Accord & its Compensation
    those chiefs & councils who need to keep their community members in the dark in order to supplicate the most “vulnerables” to limited beliefs & “hopes”
    thereby, maintain, &/or, enhance their abusive powers.

    Perhaps, Mr. Peters can take some solace in knowing that he may be able to learn more about which bullying, information depriving despots are presently being “de-stereotyped”.

    Some of the chiefs & councils may even graciously admit that some of the more abusive aspects of human nature are being used & rationalized by despots by claims that the abuse of their power is based upon tradition, &/or, culture that excludes the comprehension of the abuses by non Natives. Doesn’t this suggest that unless you are in the position of being able to be bullied, etc., then you are incapable of, &/or, should be prohibited from helping those who are being bullied by providing the information & safe forums for the discussion, sharing, improving information, plans, etc. before they become a decision that are acted upon & the human costs are added up? There are many examples of this “helping” precedent in other human communities around the globe.

    The potential sponsors of this “helping process” understand the importance of identifying, investigating, prosecuting & enforcing the prevention of the abusers from continuing their abuse. Similarly, the potential sponsors can assist the most vulnerable community members to ascertain the amount of compensation they are due for previous abuse. These sponsors who are being considered have also observed & understand that the political abuse of the RCMP is causing a great deal of morale problems within the non union service (see; Paul Palango; “Dispersing the Fog”). Therefore, it is for the aforementioned reasons that the potential sponsors would like to be considered to help the most vulnerable community members eliminate their fears & help the most vulnerable develop the natural resources that are accessed by way of the community’s lands. These are also the lands that have already been secretly “negotiated”, &/or, are in the process of being secretly “negotiated” within Canada by way of the despots & without the full due diligence sharing of the information with the most vulnerable community members.

    There are several reasons why some of these foreign corporate sponsors might be considered. They are:
    1) basically, to understand & perhaps prevent bullying despots from making secret arrangements whereby,
    in exchange for:
    a) the despots’ cooperation to endorse the last minute “new” &”improved” environmental & safety standards, etc. for their projects that may be derived from the C – CI Treaty, the EU – Canada CET Agreement, the TP Partnership, et al
    b) the “protection” provided by the bullies for the potential foreign participants/ investors from the most vulnerable community members,

    the potential foreign participants/investors may exclusively & secretly reward the bullies financially & thereby, further legitimize the bullies power & control by way the bullies’ mechanisms of fear.

    2) some of the potential foreign participants are as disgusted with the “unethical” & “inhumane” arrangements of corporate Canada & their representatives in the government of Canada as many Native & non Native Canadians, et al, are. One potential participant said:

    “It’s not that we are racist when it comes to dealing with Canadians,
    it’s just that we can’t stand the way that you suck up to us”.

    That is to say; while corporate Canada & its political representatives “suck up” to the “coveted” foreign investor, the “Canadians” also “shi…”, uh, “purge down”. It may be regrettable that this bullying is just part of human nature?

    Our job is to identify & to minimize, &/or, eliminate it.

    Therefore, while the most vulnerable Native community members may be looking for a much “better” deal that protects their rights to live & express themselves in the absence of fear, isn’t it reasonable to assume that they can also expect to start getting the aforementioned relevant information for their humble consideration, including The Compensation that is embodied in The W.A.D. Accord?

    So, does the “much better deal” by way of these “foreign” countries include:
    1) the elimination of the bullying by the information depriving despots,
    2) enabling the employment opportunities that can equal those non Native Canadians & then use the “better deal” to shrink the financial disparity between:
    the 95% – 99% of the communities’ most vulnerable members
    the 1% – 5% of the existing political & financial bullies, both; Native & non Native?
    3) et al.

    But, aren’t the above reasons why The W.A.D. Accord (aka; The Australian Question) was developed in the first place? That is to say, The Accord was developed in order to ensure that the most vulnerable community members are getting the relevant information & are getting the opportunity to consider, to discuss, to ask questions about it, to improve, to create alternatives, to reject, etc., the information & questions in The Accord, including The Compensation that is embodied in it?

    By way of closing, now that Mr. Peters’ concerns about negative stereotyping have been laid to rest, the most vulnerable community members, et al, might also consider some of the other areas of information that they are continuing to be deprived of that can be, &/or, are being abused by the the aforementioned bullies in order to strengthen their, the bullies’, “legitimacy” besides:
    1) the on going land settlements & treaty rights negotiations,
    2) the development of Aboriginal self-governance
    3) et al?

    And, finally, how do you, the readers in North America, China, the European Union, the Trans Pacific nations, et al, think that these human nature issues can be redressed by The WAD Accord?

    I look forward to reading about your questions, your comments, your improvements, etc., regarding the above & the information listed below.


    David E.H. Smith
    – Researcher
    – “Qui tam…”
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 members of your family, your friends, your associates, et al, so that they can use the due diligence info to make more informed decisions about their families’ financial planning, then they can share it with 10 others…
    To SHARE Information & Questions re; The Relationship between Human
    (Nature) Rights & Economics in 1) the C-CI Treaty, the CET Agreement, TPP, et al, and 2) Native Canadian Treaties via The WAD Accord

    • Jes us, David Smith…..

      Scatter-brain much?

      Your shotgun approach (just throw out a bunch of crap and see what you get) isn’t really going to be effective in getting you any info.

      Looks like you’ve been taking Emily’s meds.