It’s been four years since Tina Fontaine‘s body was pulled from the Red River, and on the grim anniversary her family and friends are holding a celebration for her.
“I just wish she was still with me, right here,” Fontaine’s mother Tina Duck said.
On Friday night, a community feast is being held to not only honour Fontaine’s memory but to help everyone continue to heal.
“It hurts,” her mother said through tears. “But I know my daughter is in a better place right now.”
While it may be a grim anniversary, it is a day that is being used to celebrate Fontaine so she is never forgotten.
“Everything we do is in cycles of four,” organizer Melissa Stevenson said. “To honor the four directions, for the fourth year it’s a time to usher in healing for our family and a feast brings community together so they can help you heal.”
Fontaine was one of the children in Stevenson’s children’s program at the Indigenous Family Centre. She met the young girl when she was just four years old.
“We would Smudge Drum, do activities and go on outings together,” Stevenson said. “We grew very close and I love all my kids as if they are my own nieces and nephews.”
Since Fontaine was killed, every year her family has gathered at a memorial site at the Alexander Docks for prayers, drumming, smudging and sharing stories.
“This month it was planned for a memorial in honor of Tina and being four years now,” Stevenson said. “She was a beautiful little girl that touched so many hearts all over the world.”
Memorial signs that read “Love for Tina” and “Justice for Tina” will be placed down by the riverbanks.
“I don’t really like walking by the river. It reminds me of my daughter,” Duck said. “I just look across and thing ‘my baby was found right there.’ There’s too many memories.
Fontaine went missing in August 2014 and eight days after the initial report was made, the 15-year-old girl’s body was pulled from the Red River, wrapped inside a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks.
It took 16 months before police arrested Raymond Cormier and charged him with second-degree murder for her death.
After a three-week trial this past February, a jury found Cormier not guilty.