Manitoba RCMP are treating the death of 11-year-old Teresa Robinson on the Garden Hill First Nation as a homicide.
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The girl's body was found on May 11 and community members said they believed she had been mauled by an animal, likely a bear. But RCMP said Friday they believe the girl was the victim of a homicide.
An autopsy was performed on Wednesday, and some aspects of it are continuing. RCMP said they still have not been able to positively identify the body, though they believe it's Robinson's.
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RCMP said foul play is suspected in her death, and while her remains had been disturbed by animals, there's no evidence to suggest that animals played a part in her death.
The girl was reported missing to police on May 11, but had disappeared after going to a birthday party in Garden Hill on May 5.
A local search began days after she didn't return home.
RCMP said no arrests have been made, and details on the timeline of her disappearance and killing will not be released because of "their relevance to this investigation."
"We are all shocked over the news of hearing that a child, an 11-year-old child being murdered, and the fact it is the situation of her being found in the bush all by herself is even more tragic," said Diane Redsky, of the MaMawi in Winnipeg, who is an advocate for murdered and missing women.
She said aboriginal and non-aboriginal leaders need to come together to find solutions to the epidemic of murdered and missing aboriginal women.
"We have way too many incidents," she said. "Oftentimes, we find them very preventable, and in this situation, having a child as young as 11 now being found murdered deeply concerns our entire community."
Not an isolated case, advocate says
University of Winnipeg professor Leah Gazan said the community deserves answers.
"The same level of intensity that's afforded to investigating disappearances of individuals should be afforded to indigenous women and girls," she said. "That is not happening in this city [and] country right now," said Gazan. "I have to question why an 11-year-old child goes missing, and it takes five days for people to start taking intense action."
Gazan, a long-time advocate for murdered and missing indigenous women, said it's not an isolated case, and it happens in many families.
"I think this is another example of the level of inaction that happens around indigenous women and girls go missing in this country," she said.