NEWS
08/22/2014 05:50 EDT | Updated 10/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Family prepares for Tina Fontaine’s funeral on Saturday

Tina Fontaine’s family is preparing to say their final goodbyes.

The 15-year-old girl was found dead in the Red River over the weekend, and Winnipeg police believe she was killed.

On Saturday, her family is holding a funeral for her in her home community of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Thelma Favel, the girl’s great aunt and guardian, said this has been the worst week of her life.

“I can’t even hold her, hold her hand. I can’t touch her little pretty face just to say goodbye,” said Favel.

On Friday, the family made offerings of tobacco around a sacred fire in a special ceremony to honour Tina.

The fire is meant to represent Tina’s spirit, so she can be with her family as they say goodbye.

Favel raised Tina for 11 years and last saw her on July 1.

“She was awesome. That’s not the Tina I see in the papers. That’s not the Tina I ever, ever knew,” said Favel.

The teen had gone to Winnipeg to visit her estranged mother. Favel said Tina was acting out and wouldn’t come home. She knew she needed help, so she contacted Child and Family Services to take her.

Tina was in foster care in Winnipeg for barely a month before she was found dead.

“Even though she was in the system for that short little time, it didn’t take long for her to fall through the cracks,” said Favel.

She wasn’t even notified Tina was missing until she had been gone for two weeks, Favel said.

Two days later, Tina’s body was found in a bag in the Red River.

Favel said she isn’t blaming CFS. Instead, she just wants answers.

“I just want them to know when people phone for help, they really need help,” she said. “They don’t phone for nothing.”

Noella Fontaine, Tina’s grandmother, said her family had asked CFS to get counselling for Tina but that never happened.

Tina was still dealing with the violent beating death of her father three years earlier.

“She didn’t grieve for him when we had the body. She didn’t show no emotions. She was just holding it in,” said Fontaine.

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