We must honour Tina Fontaine through concrete action to address violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in Canada

On behalf of Amnesty International, and all our members across Canada, we want to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Tina Fontaine, to her friends and to her community.

Everyone who has lost a loved one to violence deserves justice. They deserve answers about what may have put their loved one in harm’s way. They deserve to know that police have done everything in their power to identify those responsible for taking their loved one from them. And they deserve to see the perpetrators brought to account.

As the Manitoba Justice Inquiry so clearly set out almost 20 years ago, when justice is not achieved, the burden of suffering on families and friends is only increased.

The murder of Tina Fontaine demonstrated a brutal indifference to the lives and inherent worth of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls and two-spirited persons; an indifference that has become commonplace and entrenched across the country. It is essential that, as a society, Canada responds by affirming in the clearest possible way that Tina and all First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls and two-spirited persons are loved and valued – without exception.

We refer to the Manitoba Justice Inquiry with both sorrow and frustration. Canada has held so many inquiries, going back several decades, in response to the tragic loss of lives of Indigenous persons. Family members and advocates for the rights of Indigenous peoples have engaged with these inquiries in good faith and have presented recommendations that they know from experience would make a real difference in preventing such tragedies occurring again.

And yet, despite the promises made by politicians when the final reports are delivered, we see over and over again that the vast majority of recommendations go unimplemented.  In fact in Manitoba a further commission had to be established in an effort to spur implementation of the recommendations from the province’s Justice Inquiry, nearly a decade later.

Outrage over the murder of Tina Fontaine helped catalyze an important shift in public awareness that led to finally overcoming the years of resistance to holding a national inquiry into violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited persons. Today, it is more important than ever to have concrete assurance from the federal, provincial and territorial governments that the testimony that families have shared with the Inquiry will be honoured with meaningful and concrete action.

To this call, Amnesty International would like to add the following. So many of the measures needed to honour and protect the lives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women, girls and two-spirited persons have already been identified by past inquiries, reviews and studies. All governments in Canada should honour Tina Fontaine and all the lives that have been lost by acting immediately to implement these known solutions.