Thousands gather in memory of Tina Fontaine in Toronto

Thousands gathered in Toronto Saturday afternoon in a call for justice for Tina Fontaine and a call for the reparation of Canada's child welfare system.

Organizer Madyson Arscott, 16, reminds other young indigenous people that their lives are valued at event

Thousands of people gather at Toronto Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto for the Justice for Tina rally. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

Thousands gathered in Toronto Saturday afternoon in a call for justice for Tina Fontaine and a call for the reparation of Canada's child welfare system.

"There's resistance in your simple existence," said organizer Madyson Arscott, 16, this afternoon.

"You show more courage walking out the door in the morning than the ones who are trying to silence you have had in their whole lives," she added.

Arscott was the primary organizer of Saturday's rally and used it to remind other young Indigenous people that their lives are valued even when faced with discrimination and violence.

She said the death of Fontaine hit close to home, which inspired her to action.

16-year old Madyson Arscott, who created the Facebook event for Saturday's rally tells Indigenous youth 'There’s resistance in your simple existence.' (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

Last week, Raymond Cormier was acquitted in the murder of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl from Sagkeeng First Nation who was found in Winnipeg's Red River in 2014.

Fontaine was staying in a hotel, under the custody of Child and Family services, when she was murdered.

"Young people like Tina Fontaine could have transformed the world if they were given the tools and the opportunity," said NDP MP Charlie Angus.

"This government has to say the value of life of Indigenous children is a hell of a lot greater than all of the oil or gold or diamonds that will ever come out of this nation," Angus added. "Until we get that through our heads we're not going to be the nations we're meant to be."

The results of the Cormier trial come on the heels of the acquittal of Gerald Stanley who was charged in the murder of Colten Boushie.

NDP MP Charlie Angus at the Justice for Tina rally in Toronto. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC )

Over the past few weeks, there have been gatherings and rallies from coast to coast calling for justice, as Indigenous people and their allies stand together in solidarity.

Academics, activists, and Indigenous leaders have called out Canada's justice and child welfare systems as being discriminatory against Indigenous people.

"We know right now in Ontario there are more children in care than there were, that were taken from their families in the residential school system," said Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. 

"That's not acceptable. We have to do better by young women, young Indigenous women like Tina, and by Indigenous children all together."


Rhiannon Johnson is an Anishinaabe journalist from Hiawatha First Nation based in Toronto. She has been with CBC since 2017 focusing on Indigenous life and experiences.