WINNIPEG – Mayor Brian Bowman issued the following statement in response to today’s outcome in the Raymond Cormier criminal trial:

My heart and my thoughts are with Tina Fontaine’s family, and members of the Sagkeeng First Nation. The death of this young woman – bright, full of promise, but at the same time vulnerable and in need of protection – was a tragedy.

Winnipeggers and Canadians may have differing views on today’s outcome in this case. I think it is important, however, to be mindful that for many people, today is a day marked by grief, anger, and broken hearts.

No one can be blind to the racial tensions in our country.  The work of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is shedding light onto a dark past of violence and a history of racism in Canada. All of us have a responsibility to challenge racism and discrimination when we see it. And all of us need to work to repair the broken relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

There’s no question in my mind that we all failed Tina. And we are all continuing to fail other young Indigenous people in communities across our country. I believe Canada is the greatest country in the world – a land of tolerance, diversity, and civility – but until we all confront the shame and tragedy of our country’s racism and treatment of Indigenous people we will fall short of that great country we know Canada to be.

When I declared 2016 a Year of Reconciliation in our city, I had great hope. I think there have been positive steps forward, and I remain hopeful.  But the pain and prejudices that go back for generations cannot be healed in a year or two. We are striving for profound changes in culture, attitudes, and actions – and that takes time.

I believe the progress we’ve made is tangible, despite the despair we feel thinking about the loss of young people like Tina or the level of violence our community witnessed against Rinelle Harper. With determination, however, we can continue our journey of reconciliation. And despite how many in our community may be feeling today, now is not the time to let our pain, our fear, or our prejudices hold us back. Now is not the time for the commitment we all made as a country many years ago – a commitment to peace and partnership with Indigenous people – to be interrupted or forgotten.