Nothing to see here…
Supporters of murder victim Tina Fontaine and her family gathered outside a Winnipeg courthouse to address the media after Raymond Cormier was found not guilty of the teenage girl’s murder. It’s the second time this month that a white man got off scot-free for the killing of a young indigenous person, and this outrage runs deep. For while Tina was troubled, drug-addicted, and homeless at the time of her death, she was far from forgotten and unloved, as speaker after speaker here makes clear. She was valued and loved, and scores of people worked hard trying to get her out of that impossible life and into a livable one, right up to the day she disappeared. To see their struggle be laid waste like this is hard to bear, even for a complete outsider like myself.
People think that drug-addicted, sexually abused and exploited kids are throwaways in this society, and never more so than when they’re non-white. Indigenous kids are the most abused and exploited of all in this land; the system has made it so that it’s hard for them not to be. Let’s keep in mind that residential schools did not shut down that long ago; the last of them closed only two decades ago. But the abuses committed there have been going on for at least a hundred and fifty years. That’s a lot of institutional abuse, torture, mistreatment and cultural disenfranchisement. Add to that the ongoing fallout from the “Sixties Scoop”, the age of child abductions and forced adoptions, and an ugly picture emerges; a picture that’s far from finished. It’s a black eye on a country that celebrated its sesquicentennial just last year. But that’s where we are, so let’s own up to it. We, as a country, have failed Tina Fontaine. And Colten Boushie. And countless, unnamed others just like them.
Meanwhile, in the interests of fairness (snort, yeah, I love that word too, and never more than in a context as unfair as this), here’s the acquitted, in his own words:
It wouldn’t be the first time that his words have tripped him up, as many honestly believed they would be the conviction of him. The man has some nerve, and it’s the kind of confidence and boldness only a racist in a racist system could have. He’s been convicted of many things, but murder won’t be one of them, and that’s because our so-called justice system was written by white men, FOR white men — and because it has already deemed young Aboriginals like Tina Fontaine and Colten Boushie to be disposable.