The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA) has expressed outrage with the jury finding of not guilty in the death of Tina Fontaine.
On Feb. 22, a jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine. The decision highlights many systemic failings that did not protect Tina Fontaine before and after her death, including unfair treatment by media and the acquittal by the jury.
The organization has also conveyed its ongoing disappointment in the systems that are intended to protect all Canadians, but which in this case particularly, failed this young Anishinaabe girl.
In a press statement on Feb. 28, the IBA extended condolences to the Fontaine family and to the Sagkeeng First Nation for their loss.
“It is extremely unfortunate that only two weeks after the acquittal of one man in the death of Colten Boushie that we must reiterate that danger is an ongoing reality for Indigenous people in Canada,” said Scott Robertson, president of the IBA.
“Worse yet, that to be an Indigenous woman is oftentimes more dangerous. This finding of not guilty highlights the need for a fully comprehensive and positive outcome from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We cannot lose any more of our children because of the failings of systems that do not regard Indigenous lives as important.”
“Canada’s legal system, child and welfare system, police services, health system and media have all failed Tina Fontaine, her family, and the country,” said Robertson. “It is an atrocity that society has failed another Indigenous girl, once more, far too young in life.”
The IBA calls for immediate protection of all Indigenous people, especially women and girls.
“We also want to remind Indigenous youth that they are valued and must remain hopeful, and we will all work together to end injustice within these systems,” said Brooks Arcand-Paul, director with the IBA.
The IBA is a national association comprised of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) lawyers, legal academics, Elders, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students.
The IBA is a not-for-profit federal corporation mandated, amongst other things, to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous peoples.