Families and communities across Canada are again renewing their calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada following the death of Sagkeeng First Nation teenager Tina Fontaine.
The 15-year-old girl was found dead in Winnipeg last weekend and police are treating her death as a homicide.
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For Edmonton's Peacha Atkinson, mother of Nina Courtepatte, the news of Fontaine's death has reminded her of her own loss. She gathered with other family members and with friends Saturday at at Hawrelak Park for mutual support.
“It brought back all the memories, flooding back,” Atkinson said. “When you found out, the phone calls, the sleepless nights, the wondering where she is.”
Courtepatte, also young and aboriginal like Fontaine, was just 13 years old in 2005 when she went missing.
Courtepatte had been lured from the West Edmonton Mall, sexually assaulted and killed. Her battered body was found on a golf course west of Edmonton. In 2012, Michael Briscoe was found guilty of first-degree murder in relation to Courtepatte's death.
This week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Atkinson told CBC News that she wasn't surprised by the prime minister’s response.
“The government, they don’t care about us,” she said. “To the government, we are expendable. Why put money and resources into finding out how come we’re so expendable?”
Melanie Omeniho, elected president of the Women of the Métis Nation, has long been advocating for this type of inquiry.
“The truth is there is a [social] process that has to be acknowledged as to why people think it’s acceptable that they’re aboriginal women and they’re just kids that have gone missing or young women that have gone missing and that they don’t matter to society,” Omeniho said.
While any inquiry would be too late for Courtepatte, Fontaine and other victims of crime, Atkinson hopes there will be a national inquiry soon so other mothers of aboriginal girls across the country won’t have to grieve their daughters as she does.