Raymond Cormier found not guilty in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine

Raymond Cormier

"But we're honoured to be standing with them to carry the burden of Tina who didn't get a chance to realize her dreams, who didn't get a chance to be here with us to stand up for others".

Tina was being sexually exploited after coming to Winnipeg from her home 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

"She wants peace. She wants healing".

On Thursday, a jury found Raymond Cormier, 56, not guilty of second-degree murder. "I believe Canada is the greatest country in the world - a land of tolerance, diversity, and civility - but until we all confront the shame and tragedy of our country's racism and treatment of Indigenous people we will fall short of that great country we know Canada to be".

As a government, we will continue to pursue the goals of reconciliation and work alongside First Nations communities to build healthier communities, and a place where jobs and opportunities will flourish.

"I feel like the system has failed all of us", he said, adding it felt fulfilling to stand up for the rights of Indigenous people at the march.

Her death reignited calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Over three weeks of testimony, the jury heard how Tina's relatively stable upbringing spiralled out of control when her father was murdered. Cormier was charged more than a year later. Her mother came back into her life and Tina had gone to visit her in Winnipeg, where the girl descended into life on the streets.

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Tina Fontaine had been in Winnipeg less than a month when she ran away from foster care.

Sounds of drumming, traditional song and shouts of "we want justice" echoed through downtown during the almost three-hour long event, which wound past the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and ended at Oodena Circle, the sacred site at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers at The Forks. One witness, Ernest DeWolfe, testified that Cormier told him he had sex with Tina.

"The CFS [Child and Family Services] system has definitely failed Tina Fontaine, the Winnipeg Police Services failed Tina Fontaine and Canadian society failed Tina Fontaine", said Kevin Hart, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Manitoba. Tina went so far as to report a stolen truck to police. He said evidence indicates that it is unlikely that she died of an overdose or committed suicide, since her body was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks.

"Tina, I know, is here beside me right now and she's looking up on you guys and appreciating everything you're doing".

Investigators went undercover and offered Cormier an apartment.

"There were significant holes in the case that the Crown simply wasn't able to close". Cormier was recorded telling multiple people he was attracted to Tina and had sex with her. Cormier also said he would bet that Tina was killed because "I found out she was 15 years old". "And guess what? I finished the job".

Only if they are satisfied her death was unlawful will jurors have to determine if Cormier was responsible.

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