The sound of sobbing echoed through St. Alexander Roman Catholic Parish on Saturday in Sagkeeng First Nation as more than 250 mourners crowded the church to remember 15-year-old slain victim Tina Fontaine.
"Our sweet girl is now reunited with her daddy and the angels," long-time family friend Sandra Longford said during the eulogy. Ms. Longford went on to sing Never Alone, the same song she sang at Tina's father's funeral just four years earlier.
A candle placed atop the casket holding Tina Fontaine's petite body flickered beside a portrait of the girl.
Church bells had summoned mourners as they filed inside for the afternoon service. Minutes after it began, overcast skies released heavy rain. Family and friends had gathered an hour before the 3 pm EST start time. Some consoled each other with hugs. Others spoke of Tina; of her sense of humour or about how she was good with babies and loved video games.
Elaine Turtle, aunt to Tina Fontaine's birth mother Tina Duck, was overcome by memories of losing a loved one to a similar fate.
Turtle's sister, Cheryl Duck was also 15-years-old when she was slain in 1988. Her body was found in a barren field near the outskirts of Winnipeg and her case remains unsolved. Tina Fontaine's body was pulled from Winnipeg's Res River on August 17.
Before the end of the service, Tina Duck stood up from her second-row seat and walked out into the parking lot, where a shouting match broke out between Ms. Duck and family members of Tina Fontaine's birth father's family.
"I wasn't there for ten years," Ms. Duck acknowledged to reporters, but, she said she paid for the funeral and the black t-shirts with Tina Fontaine's smiling face printed on the front that some mourners wore.
As a woman hurried Ms. Duck into the passenger seat of a red Dodge caravan a reporter asked her how she felt after being rejected at her daughter's funeral.
"Not good. It hurts," she said before the van drove off.
Six young men wore eagle feather arm patches with Tina's picture on it. As they carried the casket out of the church to the awaiting hearse, a woman sang and slowly banged a handheld drum.
Tina's body was driven back to Winnipeg for cremation. Next week, her ashes will be buried in an urn on top of her father's grave behind the church. Wreaths dedicated to Tina were carried to the site after the service, including one with a note attached.
"To my daughter Tina Fontaine, I will always love you, miss you. Love mom, Tina Duck," it read.
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