People hold up signs during a rally in memory of Tina Fontaine in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) The failure to hold anyone accountable for the 2014 death of an Indigenous teenager brought several hundred people to Montreal’s Cabot Square on Saturday, where they demanded more concrete action on reconciliation and urgent reforms to Canada’s justice system.
"I have rage at the system that exerts discrimination," Viviane Michel, who heads the advocacy group Quebec Native Women, told the crowd.
The vigil was held to honour the memory of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl whose body was found wrapped in a duvet cover and weighted down by rocks in Winnipeg’s Red River three years ago.
Earlier this week, a jury acquitted a 56-year-old man of second-degree murder charges in her death. The verdict came down as Indigenous leaders and advocates were still reeling from the outcome of Gerald Stanley’s murder trial.
Just days before, Stanley was found not guilty of shooting Colten Boushie , a 22-year-old member of the Cree Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan. Tina Fontaine, 15, was murdered and dumped in the Red River in 2014. (Facebook) The two trials have prompted renewed calls to overhaul the justice and child welfare systems in Canada to ensure they treat Indigenous people with more equality.
Similar concerns have been voiced at Quebec’s commission into Indigenous relations, which held hearings in Montreal earlier this month.
"We have to make change. What we are doing is not enough, as evidenced this past week," said Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist.
About 400 people attended the Saturday afternoon vigil in Cabot Square, many holding signs with slogans such as "Justice brings healing" and "Do right."
"We need equal justice too," said Michel. "I have a dream that we can have the equal protection that you all have."
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