Winnipeg effort to drag Red River for bodies gains momentum

Efforts to drag the Red River for bodies gained momentum Sunday at a gathering at the Alexander Docks, the site where 15-year-old Tina Fontaine's body was found in August.

100 people gather at Alexander Docks Sunday to remember Tina Fontaine, gain support to drag river

Group demands search of Red River

9 years ago
Duration 2:19
A group of volunteers in Winnipeg want to start an initiative called 'drag the Red', to go out with boats and scour the Red River

An effort to drag the Red River for bodies gained momentum Sunday at a gathering at the Alexander Docks, the site where 15-year-old Tina Fontaine's body was pulled from the river in August.

Around 100 people came together and a pipe ceremony and feast was held to bless the initiative.

Twenty-four people have now joined a group of seven boats that plans to drag the Red River starting this week.

Percy Ningewance made the trip from Ontario. He has experience dragging for bodies in his own community.
Tina Fontaine is shown in this Facebook profile picture from January of 2014. Her body was discovered in a bag in the Red River on Aug. 17. (Facebook)

Ningewance said he knows searching a river as big as the Red River will be a challenge, but he's helping train people to do the work regardless.

“We've got a lot of people here that are ready to go,” said Ningewance. “We are also going to be having what we call teams that are going to be on the shoreline.”

Sheenah Fontaine was at Sunday's ceremony. Her sister-in-law, Amber Guiboche, went missing in 2010.
Amber Rose Marie Guiboche went missing in November of 2010. (Winnipeg Police Service)

“[The] last conversation that I had with her… she had no children, she wanted a family, she wanted a baby, She wanted life like everyone else," said. Fontaine.

“It's really hard thinking of where she is, how she is, if she's alive. It really hurts the heart. It affects your brain, your thoughts.”
Claudette Osborne was 21 when she went missing in 2008. (Manitoba Integrated Task Force)

Sheenah said she supports the search.

“It's a step closer to answers," said Fontaine. "You never know what you could find in this Red River, if it's not Amber we find, it could be somebody else.”

The group wants to head out on boats and comb the river bed with chains and hooks to find other bodies or clues that might shed light on cases involving missing people.

The push to search the river came from Bernadette Smith after Fontaine’s body was found.

Smith has been searching for her sister, Claudette Osborne. since she went missing in 2008.

Smith said the group will be staying in contact with police to let them know where they are searching.

A trial run was done Saturday, and while Smith said more volunteers are needed, she expects they will be ready to carry on with plans to start the search this week.

“It's kind of a double-edged sword,” said Smith. “You are kind of hoping that you don't find anything, but, on the other hand, you are hoping you can bring some family answers.”