The discovery of Tina Fontaine’s body one year ago in the Red River tore our hearts. It also spurred us to action to keep other children like her safe. Deeply affected by Tina’s murder, Kim Bouvette began petitioning last fall for a 24/7 safe space for youth in the West End – the neighbourhood from where Tina went missing in August, 2014.
In February Kim travelled to meet Thelma Favel, Tina’s great-aunt, at her Sagkeeng home. It was to acknowledge and honour Tina as the inspiration behind the work to provide children and youth a 24-hour safe space in the West End.
That day Thelma said 24-hour safe spaces are needed everywhere. There are always kids in need on the streets, she said.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in the city, there’s always kids that are afraid of something or someone in their lives.”
Thelma has fostered 67 kids over almost 40 years in Winnipeg’s North End and in Sagkeeng. She said it took time to gain their trust, and many would run away when they first came to her. If a safe space had existed she believes many of those kids would have used it rather than run to the streets.
“If they knew that there were more places open for them, if they knew, if they existed at that time, they would go to that safe place. Probably more than half (of my 67 foster kids) would say they wanted something.”
Thelma and Tina and all of Tina’s family are in our thoughts today. As we continue to work towards a 24-hour space open for children and youth who are in need – who are alone and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation – we honour them.
— with Kimberley Bouvette.
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