Manitoba

Tina Fontaine's family says MMIW inquiry a step in right direction but 'won't bring Tina back'

Thelma Favel says while a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women won't bring Tina Fontaine back, it may provide some answers.
Thelma Favel, Tina Fontaine's great aunt, doesn't expect a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women will bring her any closure, but she hopes it will make a difference for other families.

Thelma Favel says while a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women won't bring Tina Fontaine back, it may provide some answers.

Favel is the great aunt of the 15-year-old whose body was pulled from the Red River last year. Fontaine was in the care of a Child and Family Services agency when she went missing, according to police.  No arrests have been made in the case. 

Now a long-awaited inquiry is about to be announced by the federal government. 

Ottawa is expected to announce details today about the first phase of the inquiry which will include consultation with the victims' families, aboriginal organizations, experts and other stakeholders. 

While Favel was one of the families pushing for it, she admits she has her doubts.

"Like they had an inquiry into Phoenix Sinclair, the little girl who was missing and murdered. Then Tina was murdered and now we are going to go through another inquiry. I don't know if they will just be writing down a bunch of stuff on paper and just leaving it in a file again," she said. 

Favel says it was a week ago she visited Winnipeg for the first time since Tina's death.

Great aunt visits site where teen's body found

She says up until now, it's been too painful for her to come into the city from Powerview, Man. where the family lives. But finally, last week, she went to the Alexander Docks near where the girl's body was found.

"This was my first time ever going back since they found her. With the Christmas season coming, I needed a little more closure. I collapsed at the docks because it was so cold, thinking my baby was pulled out of that area. I said a prayer and I just cried and cried and I was talking to her. Why did she end up in a place like this when she had a safe place to be here at home?" Favel said. 

Favel wants to know what changed in Tina for her to turn to the streets. She wants to see more safe havens for girls at risk where they can talk to someone about what they are running from and what their fears are.

Favel doesn't think the inquiry will bring any closure for her.

"It won't bring her back. It will never bring her back. It was 16 months ago. It still feels like yesterday," she said.

Favel believes families should have a chance to tell their story, too, about their experieces and their tragedies. 

"I just pray something positive comes out of this inquiry. I am praying it will save more children, more girls and more women." 

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