Emotional reactions grew across Canada after a jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty in the death of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old Anishinaabe girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation.
"Our community has been saddened, outraged and devastated as we followed this trial and learned about young Tina's life. With this decision, justice is denied yet again, and a family and our community mourns again," Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said in a statement Thursday.
Cormier was charged with second-degree murder, accused of killing Fontaine and dumping her body in Winnipeg's Red River.
A 15 year old girl, thrown into the river like garbage, & no one will be punished for it. #JusticeforTinaFontaine— Nyctea (@DameMyniah) February 22, 2018
Jury's not guilty verdict for man who BOASTED he raped & murdersd 15yo Tina Fontaine proves again in Canada you can kill Indigenous ppl w/o penalty. This is evil incarnate & more ppl decide the Law is no longer worth respecting at all. It isn't unless this is appealed— David P Ball (@davidpball) February 22, 2018
The verdict comes in the same month that a different jury acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man. That decision led to national rallies calling for justice for Colten, and controversy over how juries are selected in Canada.
This country over and over and OVER again tells us how native kids are worthless to them. U are all complicit to these murders. Every juror, every silent bystander. Even after death the system made by you fails our young ones. #JusticeforTinaFontaine— Savannah Ferguson (@sangriasav) February 22, 2018
Fontaine's great-aunt Thelma Favel, who raised the girl, wept in court as the verdict was read. "They took my baby away from me again, like her life didn't matter," she allegedly said, according to one reporter in the courtroom.
Outside, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North shared a message from Favel, that she wanted people to maintain the peace.
"She does not want to see any more violence against anyone. She doesn't want to see any retaliation because that's not what our people are about. She wants peace, she wants healing, she wants justice," North said.
People expressed anger and frustration on social media at the result of the trial, and it means for other missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Not only could this have been me. But this still CAN be me. #TinaFontaine— Ally Freedman (@allyfreedman) February 22, 2018
The system succeeded again today.— Here for Dafonte (@jessewente) February 22, 2018
Canada succeeded again today.
There are no words, only actions. I will work harder. We will work harder. If we have to tear it down, we will.
Let the anger of today be our fuel for tomorrow.
#JusticeforTinaFontaine and for all #MMIWG.
Fontaine's remains were discovered eight days after she was reported missing in August 2014. Cormier was charged a year later.
The Crown had argued that Cormier convicted himself with his own admissions on secret police recordings, but the defence said numerous forensic holes in the prosecution's case had left reasonable doubt.
Fontaine's death prompted renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The jury deliberated for 11 hours before coming to its decision on Thursday.
With files from The Canadian Press
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