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Memorial for Tina Fontaine unveiled one year after teen's body pulled from Red River
Published Monday, August 17, 2015 7:18AM CST Last Updated Tuesday, August 18, 2015 12:20PM CST
Family and friends of Tina Fontaine gathered on Monday, marking the one-year anniversary of the slain teen's body being recovered from the Red River.
Family and friends came together at the grave in Sagkeeng First Nation that Tina shares with her father Eugene, who is also a murder victim.
The family expressed their sorrow but also their gratefulness for the support they've received in the last year.
Joe and Thelma Favel could not control their emotions at a ceremony to unveil a monument marking the grave of their niece Tina Fontaine.
"Everybody that helped and that's here today - there's no words we can say except thank you,” said Thelma.
One year to the day after being notified that Winnipeg police had found Tina in the Red River, the family still struggles to come to terms with what happened to their little girl and who took her away from them.
Two days after Tina's body was discovered, thousands of people marched in memory of the slain teen.
Organizer Leah Gazan said the size and diversity of that crowd surprised even her.
"Knowing that she passed through five systems that could have helped her, the fact that she was in fact a little girl, and the fact that her picture was striking, I think that struck a chord with people that care about children,” said Gazan, president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.
Members of Drag the Red, a group searching for clues into missing and murdered women, attended the anniversary memorial.
Bernadette Smith said Tina's death inspired her to begin organizing the searches.
"Tina Fontaine's death was really an awakening for our whole community. And I think we have to support each other in these times of tragedy,” said Smith from Drag the Red.
Smith's own sister Claudette Osborne has been missing since 2008.
The Favels say they're grateful for her support.
"It's unbelievable how many people are out there that are supporting us. It's beautiful, especially when she's going through the same thing and she doesn't have (any) answers. She still doesn't know where her sister is,” they said.
The Favels said they have had little contact with Winnipeg police recently. The family still doesn't know Tina's cause of death, and say they worry the case has gone cold. Winnipeg police say it is still an active investigation and a priority for the homicide unit.