Tina Fontaine 9i - Dying without justice


Dying without justice: the investigation

‘With this verdict we see yet another young First Nations woman failed by the child welfare system, failed by the police, and now failed by the courts. We stand with Tina Fontaine’s family and friends as they seek justice and healing. First Nations demand immediate changes to a system that allows our young people to die without justice. This verdict is a severe setback for justice and reconciliation in this country. Reconciliation cannot be simply about words – it has to be about action, about valuing the lives of Indigenous people, and keeping Indigenous women and girls safe.’

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde


The police investigation into the murder of Tina Fontaine relied on a controversial RCMP technique known as ‘Mr. Big’. This involves undercover police officers posing as members of a criminal syndicate in order to gain the trust of the suspect and obtain a confession.

The prosecution’s case relied heavily on Cormier’s own words recorded on undercover tapes obtained using the Mr Big method. The defence case, which led no evidence of its own, maintained that without DNA evidence and a clear cause of death, there were too many holes in the Crown case.

Commenting on the not guilty verdict for Cormier, and the devastating impact on the family who were left without answers, legal academic Kate Puddister wrote: ‘Victims and their families deserve a thorough and forthright investigation by police. It is not in the interest of victims to have evidence gathered through a Mr. Big investigation that will likely be viewed as suspect at best — or excluded from the trial, at worst.’

Others note that juries tend to convict in cases where recordings of an accused’s admissions of guilt exist. In the case of Tina Fontaine, they chose not to do so. David Milward, Professor or Law at the University of Manitoba asks: ‘What if juries continue to acquit those accused of murdering Indigenous victims in circumstances that would otherwise bring convictions?’





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