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.
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.
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.
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
Also on HuffPost: