Winnipeg’s 24 hour safe space for youth to honour Tina Fontaine

Tina Fontaine was 15 years old when she disappeared. Winnipeg Police Service handout / The Canadian Press

Vulnerable, at-risk Indigenous youth will soon have a 24-hours-a-day safe place in Winnipeg to go in times of need.

The federal government announced Tuesday Ottawa will spend nearly $350,000 to support an expansion of the Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre.

READ MORE: Raymond Cormier found not guilty in death of Tina Fontaine

“The centre will provide a safe alternative to the streets for youth who are in need of immediate support and resources,” stated a government release.

The expanded centre on Selkirk Avenue will be dedicated to Tina Fontaine.

Fontaine moved into the current 16-bed facility at the Ndinawe youth shelter on July 23, 2014.

The 15-year-old was reported missing from the shelter at least twice before her body was found in the Red River in August 2014.

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READ MORE: Tina Fontaine reported missing multiple times in weeks leading up to her death: court

“We are happy that there will be a safe place for young people in Winnipeg. We are honoured that Tina will not be forgotten and other young children will be safe,” said Thelma Favel, Fontaine’s great-aunt.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott was in Winnipeg March 27 for the announcement.

“I am proud that our government can support this Indigenous-led program. This initiative undertaken by Ndinawe and their partners, recognizes that youth are most vulnerable when they have no safe place to turn for help,” Philpott said in a release.

“By expanding access 24-7 to a culturally safe space, Ndinawe is building a better future for Indigenous youth.”

The shelter will be working with partner organizations, to act as a central hub for young people to “connect, build strong relationships with experienced staff who can assess their needs and refer them to appropriate resources and programming,” said the release.

RELATED: Winnipeg students design tribute to Tina Fontaine

An art piece crafted by two students at R.B. Russell High School and donated to Tina Fontaine’s family will take up permanent residence at the shelter.

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