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Two R.B. Russell Vocational High
School students have created a lasting memorial to Tina Fontaine.
Trinity Harry and Joseph Ginter
spent approximately 30 hours welding a four-foot metal rose in honour of the
late 15-year-old, whose body was pulled from the Red River in 2014.
The sculpture, which is emblazoned with
Tina Fontaine’s name, will be permanently erected at the Ndinawe Youth Resource
Centre on Selkirk Avenue.
Trinity and Joseph, both in Grade
11, were enlisted to create the rose by welding teacher Mike Johnston. The
teacher suggested the project after Trinity told him that she felt unsafe
walking in the North End; it was the day after the second-degree murder trial
relating to Tina’s case ended in acquittal for the accused.
“I jumped into doing it, because
this is something that’s important to me,” Trinity said.
The students hope that the
sculpture helps the public remember Tina’s case and the many murdered and
missing Indigenous women across Canada.
“I hope that it does something to
help,” Trinity said.
“I’m honoured to be doing this,”
Joseph said. “This situation is something that everyone should be concerned
Trinity, Joseph, Mr. Johnston and
R.B. Russell Principal Jackie Connell were invited to bring the sculpture to a
special press conference on March 27 at Ndinawe. The federal government
announced funding for Ndinawe to provide 24/7 access and a place of safety to
youth during times of high-risk.
“(Tina) always said the children
were our future,” said Thelma Favel, Tina’s great-aunt, who was present at the
conference. “She would have been our future, she would have made big difference
if she was allowed to.”
Ms. Favel also said Tina’s family
appreciated the memorial sculpture.
“I want to thank you for this
beautiful monument that you made for Tina…I know she is here with us right now,
” Ms. Favel said.
Trinity, Joseph and Mr. Johnston will be recognized in the Manitoba Legislature on Thursday, April 5. MLA Nahani Fontaine will be reading a member's statement in recognition of the memorial project; the R.B. Russell students and their teacher will be in attendance for this honour.
Tina Fontaine's great-aunt Thelma Favel at Ndinawe press conference.
Trinity, Joseph, Mr. Johnston and federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philphott at Ndinawe.