One year after Tina Fontaine's death, AFN head says not much has changed
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, August 17, 2015 6:51PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 17, 2015 9:23PM EDT
A year after the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says not enough has changed to prevent further violence against aboriginal women across Canada.
Bellegarde told CTV’s Power Play that aside from a decision by the Manitoba government to no longer allow foster children -- most of them aboriginal -- to be kept in hotels, and a roundtable meeting with premiers on missing and murdered aboriginal women, not a lot has changed since Fontaine’s death last August.
“Other than those things, not a lot has changed because we still don’t know who killed Tina. We still don’t know what was the cause behind it. There’s no closure for the family,” said Bellegarde.
Fontaine’s body was discovered wrapped in a bag in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014. Her death renewed calls for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
To date, Fontaine’s killer has not been found. But police have not declared Fontaine’s case “cold” either, according to Winnipeg Police Const. Rob Carver, who said that it is still a “prime focus” for the homicide unit.
Fontaine’s family honoured her memory Monday by unveiling of a specially made headstone for her in Powerview-Pine Falls, Man. The family also planned a community even to celebrate her life.
Calls for First Nations policy from Harper, Mulcair
Two weeks into the election campaign, Bellegarde called on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to announce more policy plans for aboriginal Canadians. He acknowledged Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s promise last week of $2.6 billion of new funding over four years to help close the funding gap between First Nations children and other kids, if elected.
“Mr. Trudeau coming out with an announcement on education is a good first step,” said Bellegarde.
“We are going to call on the other party leaders. Where are you at with these issues as well? Mr. Mulcair’s got to make some strong statements. Mr. Harper’s got to make some strong statements.”
The AFN has identified 51 swing ridings where they say the aboriginal vote could affect the outcome of the Oct. 19 federal election. In the meantime, he is encouraging aboriginal Canadians to make an “informed choice” when they head to the polls, instead of pressuring them to vote for one party over another.
“I, as national chief, will work with whoever gets elected, but I’m asking our citizens to make a really informed choice.”
With files from CTV Winnipeg