The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is Tina Fontaine's mother among the Missing or Murdered?

One year after teenager Tina Fontaine's body was discovered  in the Red River, two memorial events were held.  One was on the Sagkeeng Reserve where she was raised by a great- aunt from the age of three;  another, much smaller, was at the Alexander Docks near where her body was located accidentally by a search party looking for someone else.

The news media was out in force, feeding on the grief. 

But none of the "professional journalists" seemed to notice that one important person wasn't at either of these gatherings.

Tina's mother.

At first glance, maybe it came as no surprise that Valentina Duck wasn't there. She's persona non grata on the reserve, where the responsible side of the family blames her for leading her departed 15-year-old daughter deep into the dark side where the seeds of her death are thought to lie.

But her absence at the Alexander Docks is more troubling. The inner city is her turf. There's more than one connection with the docks, the mother, and the discovery of Tina's body.  The senior Tina is no shrinking violet, having been interviewed by reporters on several previous occasions less important than the one-year anniversary of her daughter's confirmed death.

It's hard to call Valentina the black sheep of the family, a family top-heavy with prostitutes, drug addicts and fall-down drunks.  But her irresponsibility is being blamed, even by her own son, for dragging Tina down into a world of hard drug use and casual sex-for-money, either of which could have led to her death.

However it's these very situations that casts a sinister shadow over her non-appearance.

Has Tina Fontaine's mother become one of the missing?

The last recorded appearance of Valentina was ten months ago in a sappy Gordon Sinclair column in the Winnipeg Free Press.  APTN tried to locate her in advance of the anniversary of the finding of Tina's body without success, sparking the question.

In the biggest irony, among the mourners at Sagkeeng was media hog Nahanni Fontaine, Manitoba's official "adviser" on missing and murdered indigenous women.  She spends much of her time hectoring others for failing the native community. 
Has Tina's mother indeed disappeared, right under the nose of Nahanni Fontaine, who, in the words of the Winnipeg Free Press, "has devoted years to supporting the relatives of the missing and murdered?"

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Tina Fontaine: pregnant, tortured and drowned. Her brother spills what he knows.

Fifteen-year-old Tina Fontaine was pregnant at the time she was killed.

That's just a smidgen of what her older brother Charles revealed during an interview last week with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) in which he delivered a carpet bombing of details about Tina's sad life, horrific death, dysfunctional family and possibly murderous associates.

He blamed his and Tina's mother for getting Tina hooked on the hard drug crystal meth and into prostitution.  He said his mother told him she was disowning him and "that if she ever sees me she's going to beat the shit out of me just like she did to Tina."

This provides confirmation of a statement made a year ago when the Winnipeg Free Press interviewed Thelma Favel, who raised Tina Fontaine, on the Sagkeeng Reserve from when she was a child. 

 "... Fontaine claimed she had been beaten up by her mother and even texted pictures of her face, (Favel) said." (Winnipeg Free Press, Aug. 29, 2014)

Brother Charles Fontaine said he believes that someone in "the meth scene" is responsible for her death. 

What he then said cannot be verified, but if true, it shines a light on where the police investigation into the girl's unsolved killing is going.

Tina's brother said he has heard that she was tortured before her death. "Her hair was ripped out, she was burned, stabbed, beaten, raped, put in a body bag still alive.  And drowned."

Charles, now 20, matter-of-factly spoke about the incredibly dysfunctional life that embraced Tina Fontaine.  

  • He was separated from her and her sister as a baby and put into foster care. Like Tina, he became a meth user.  
  • His father, Eugene, was beaten to death by "friends" with whom his father had been drinking and using drugs. 
  • His mother has admitted smoking marijuana with Tina in the weeks before the girl's body was discovered in the Red River. 
  • One aunt is a known prostitute. 
  • He himself is a male prostitute.  
  • A cousin has been charged with forcing a teenaged girl into prostitution at a residence on Furby Street which is rented under another aunt's name and where Tina spent a weekend before her death.
The brother said what worries him now is that his youngest sister is "pregnant and she's 15."
The family tradition lives on.

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