Police contact with murdered Canadian Aboriginal girl causes outrage

Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:42pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Canadian police saw an Aboriginal teenager shortly before she was killed, but did not take her into custody last month even though she was on a missing person list.

The news sparked outrage on Friday among Aboriginal groups and critics who said the incident was another systemic failure in a string of murdered and missing Aboriginal Canadian women dating back 30 years.

Police in the central Canadian city of Winnipeg said two police officers stopped Tina Fontaine, 15, about 24 hours before the runaway disappeared in early August. Her body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River nine days later.

"If police and social services would have done their job, I'm sure she would have been alive today," said Michele Audette, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada.

"We have proven on the back of a young woman that the system is failing in Canada."

The murder of the girl, who was in foster care when she disappeared, has renewed calls for a national inquiry into the high rate of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada.

Families of Aboriginal victims have long claimed Canadian police and media pay less attention to such cases when the victims are Aboriginal than when they are white.

"She fell right through the cracks," Fontaine's uncle, Joseph Favel, told reporters after the police confirmed they had contact with Fontaine during a traffic stop but let her go.

After her contact with police, paramedics found Fontaine unconscious and took her to a hospital on suspicion she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She was released into the care of social services after a few hours but ran away and disappeared hours later.   Continued...