Tina Fontaine rally draws hundreds in Calgary, demands for change

Several hundred people came out Sunday in Calgary to demand change, just days after a jury found a man not guilty in the death of Indigenous teen Tina Fontaine.

'Our young people are dying, they are being murdered'

Hundreds called for change at a Calgary rally for Tina Fontaine and other Indigenous youth. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Several hundred people came out Sunday in Calgary to demand change, just days after a jury found a man not guilty in the death of Indigenous teen Tina Fontaine.

"It is sad that something like this has to happen in order to bring glaring statistics about the way we are being treated in this country," organizer Lowa Beebe said.

"Tina Fontaine was 15 years old. She was 72 pounds. You take away race, and this could be any child. It is extremely heartwrenching and sad."

Raymond Cormier was found not guilty on Thursday in the 2014 death of Fontaine.

The rally began at Olympic Plaza for speeches, then weaved its way through downtown towards the Reconciliation Bridge. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Her body was found in Winnipeg's Red River, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks, on Aug. 17, 2014. Cormier was charged on Dec. 8, 2015.

Fontaine's death drew attention from across Canada and fuelled calls for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"As each case comes out that is unjust, Canadians are now starting to really look at this and understand what part do they play in reconciliation," Beebe said.

Rally organizer Lowa Beebe says Indigenous children are dying every day and people are getting away with it. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

"Our people are being treated unfairly and being discriminated against."

Beebe highlighted another case earlier this month, where a Saskatchewan jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty of killing Colten Boushie.

Stanley, 56, was charged with second-degree murder in the August 2016 death of the 22-year-old.

Gitz Crazyboy wanted to send a message by marching at Sunday's rally.

"Our young people are dying, they are being murdered and nothing effective is being done about it," Crazyboy said.

He said they aren't asking for anything more than what everyone else already has: human rights. He said he wants Canadians to hold their elected officials accountable.

Gitz Crazyboy says they are looking for justice which is equality and nothing more. (Audrey Neveu/Radio-Canada)

"Ask for Indigenous justice, which is just equality. We are not asking for anything else, just equality. We want the same protection as everybody else," Crazyboy said.

"I think it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I am hoping people can open up their hearts and minds so we don't have any more tragedies. I can't imagine what parents are going through, that have lost their children."

The two recent verdicts have exposed a divide in the country. Dueling online fundraisers had raised about $190,000 for Colten Boushie and $220,000 for Gerald Stanley by Sunday evening.

"I want every Canadian to actually think, how do I play a role in this?" Beebe said.

The rally followed a not-guilty verdict on Thursday in the death of Tina Fontaine. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

"How am I treating my peers? Do I understand what this country was built on? Do I understand 151 years later that a modern form of genocide is happening here and what does that say about our country? We have over 11,000 children in care. Tina Fontaine was one of those."

It's now time for change, Beebe said.

"We are asking for action. I think this is a strong statement to Canadians, to the government, to the justice system. And things need to change," she said.

"Our children are dying every day and people are getting away with it. Where is the justice?"


With files from Anis Heydari, Cameron MacLean, Guy Quenneville, Jason Warick and Audrey Neveu