NEWS
01/31/2018 20:02 EST | Updated 02/01/2018 09:22 EST

Assembly Of Manitoba Chiefs Calls Out Globe And Mail For 'Victim-Blaming Headline'

Tina Fontaine was a 15-year-old First Nations girl found dead in 2014.

Tina Fontaine is seen in an undated handout photo.
Winnipeg Police Service via Canadian Press
Tina Fontaine is seen in an undated handout photo.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs called out The Globe and Mail on Wednesday for what it called a "sensationalistic headline" about slain teenager Tina Fontaine.

"It is this type of victim-blaming headline that helps shape the public discourse on the bigger issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls," the Assembly's Grand Chief Arlen Dumas wrote in a letter to the Globe's editor-in-chief David Walmsley.

On Tuesday, the Globe and Mail ran a story by the Canadian Press on Tina's alleged killer Raymond Cormier's trial. The headline read: "Tina Fontaine had drugs, alcohol in system when she was killed: toxicologist." At the time of publication, The Globe had not responded to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' tweet.

Dumas said the headline gave the impression that Tina "had it coming."

"The death of Tina Fontaine was the first time in this country that non-Indigenous people saw more than just 'another dead Indian.' They saw a child, a child that had been horrendously murdered and discarded without a thought for what her life was and may become. The Globe and Mail's headline serves to erase these memories from the public collective and replace them with the thought that she is just like the rest of them - 'another dead Indian.'"

The death of Tina Fontaine was the first time in this country that non-Indigenous people saw more than just 'another dead Indian.'Arlen Dumas

Tina was 15 years old at the time of her death. Her body was found wrapped in a bag in Winnipeg's Red River in August 2014. Fifty-five-year-old Cormier is currently on trial for second-degree murder in her death. His trial began Monday and is expected to last five weeks.

The Winnipeg Free Press published a similar headline: "Tina Fontaine's drug use under microscope at murder trial."

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The Globe later updated its headline to: "Expert tells Winnipeg murder trial he could not determine cause of Tina Fontaine's death."

On Twitter, many readers expressed dismay that the newspapers focused on Tina rather than her alleged murderer.

In his letter to the Globe, Dumas encouraged editors to be mindful in their coverage.

"It is the media that sets the non-Indigenous public opinion and while the media is still writing victim-blaming headlines and putting Tina Fontaine on trial instead of her alleged killer Raymond Cormier, we as First Nations will always be seen as lower than."

HuffPost has reached out to The Globe and Mail for comment, but has not received a response.

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