Colonialist attitudes regarding Tina Fontaine

Dear Editors,

I would like to direct this letter to the many individuals in the mainstream who think that it is valid and appropriate to accuse Tina Fontaine’s parents of being responsible for her death because she ended up in Child and Family Service (CFS) care in the first place, while ignoring the facts in the case and ignoring the root causes.

You fail to show any empathy for the sociological conditions that lead to these tragedies, and blame the victim and the victim’s parents for what is a national disgrace.

This is a pervasive situation created by generations of government policies designed to destroy our social structures, and any attempt to minimize it to a case-by-case model dismisses of the realities that led us here. So, since you’d apparently like to take who failed Tina Fontaine back to the beginning, let’s go all the way back.

It started with Sir John A. McDonald, when he appointed Duncan Campbell Scott as Minister of Indian Affairs. They instituted a policy of assimilation through the Residential Schools that continued for over a century. Learn the history of the country, folks. Not only does your attitude make you appear to lack empathy, it shows everybody how ill-informed you are on the root causes.

The system, and the individuals who work within it, failed Tina Fontaine in an unconscionable manner. The police department as a whole is responsible, as one of the officers is a Field Trainer, and was actually teaching a rookie how they deal with Native runaways. Answer: They don’t. It’s part of their training to do nothing, apparently.

CFS left Tina (who was already uncooperative with them) unattended in a vehicle. The only two explanations for the actions of the worker are stupidity or incompetence. A thorough investigation of CFS departments on a National basis is long past due.

So when you folks think that it’s a good idea to comment on these issues in an accusatory manner, remember this: the days in which we responded by ignoring this treatment are a thing of the past. We have had enough of it on a wide spectrum of issues and we are standing up and speaking out in droves. If you’re looking for the “good Indian” who will sit down and shut up, you’re a couple of generations too late.

We are Idle No More!
Lee Deranger

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