Jasmine Kabatay: Justice in Canada for Indigenous peoples is so disturbingly predictable
Raymond Cormier being found not guilty of the murder of teenager Tina Fontaine was not a surprise. Tina Fontaine herself was put on trial from the beginning.
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When it comes to Indigenous justice in Canada, I have become a fortune teller.
I can tell exactly what will happen in Indigenous cases — because it has become so disturbingly predictable.
On Thursday evening, Raymond Cormier, 56, was found not guilty in the killing of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine in 2014. She was found wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks in the Red River in Winnipeg.
As we know, Tina is not the first Indigenous person to be denied the justice she deserved.
It’s been like this for years, in cases such as Cindy Gladue, who was found dead in a bathtub in an Edmonton hotel room in 2011. A jury found Bradley Barton not guilty for her death.
Less than a month ago, Gerald Stanley was found not guilty in the killing of Colten Boushie, who was shot in the back of the head in 2016. He testified his gun went off accidentally, resulting in Boushie’s death.
But Tina wasn’t just failed by our justice system.
She was failed by the child-welfare system. She had contact with police and child welfare workers in the weeks before her death, with Child and Family Services sending her to an area hotel instead of a home.
The fact remains that Tina Fontaine was just a teenager. She weighed 72 pounds. She was a teenager in the foster system that failed her and plenty of others before her. And it continues time and time again to fail.
Tina Fontaine was put on trial from the beginning. From media outlets talking about her toxicology reports, to irrelevant details surrounding her life. From the start, Canadians applied their sad stereotypical beliefs that Tina was just another drunk Indian, a girl with no future.
Indigenous youth like Tina, like Colten, deserve so much better than what this country has given them. We can’t keep wondering if our youth will be safe, or if they will meet a fate too early than they deserve.
Indigenous peoples will keep fighting for justice for our people. We will keep fighting the trolls, who like to poke and twist the knife while we mourn another Indigenous youth that hasn’t seen justice.
But we can’t keep doing this alone. We can’t be the only ones to keep calling out these injustices, because we’re not alone in this country that continues to fail our people and youth.