About 300 friends, family and community members gathered today at a church in the Sagkeeng First Nation to remember Tina Fontaine, a teen from the small community whose death has become a rallying point for those calling for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
The sky opened up and sent rain down on the First Nations community, some 90 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, as the service began at 2 p.m.
As the community grieved together, they shared stories about young Tina, who had run away from foster care to Winnipeg in early August.
Brittney Sanderson held her two-month-old son, Tyrone Guimond. Tyrone was born the day after Sanderson last saw Tina on June 27. She had asked Tina to be Tyrone's godmother.
Although Tina never met Tyrone, she will still be his godmother, she said.
Tina's body will be taken back to Winnipeg today to be cremated, then her ashes will be buried in an urn lain on top of her father's casket in Sagkeeng.
Tina's father was murdered three years ago and Tina is said to have had difficulty grieving his death, according to family members.
When she ran away to Winnipeg to find her biological mother, Tina lost touch with her dad's family in Sagkeeng.
As per family tradition, her brother, Dillon St. Paul, cut off his long braided hair during the funeral, to lay his braid to rest with Tina.
The funeral attendees will feast together and then send their leftovers to Tina's grandparents home. Tina lived much of her life with her great-aunt and uncle Thelma and Joseph Favel.
The leftovers from the feast will be burned in a fire that's been burning for Four days in honour of Tina. The leftovers will help feed her spirit, said one of Tina's aunts.
Emotions ran high at St. Alexander Roman Catholic Church, where after the service an argument broke out in the parking lot between relatives of Fontaine's birth father and her birth mother. The birth father's family accused Tina Duck, the birth mother, of not looking after Fontaine.
"I wasn't there for 10 years," Duck acknowledged to reporters, but added she paid for T-shirts worn by some mourners showing Fontaine's smiling face.
Fontaine was in the care of Manitoba's Child and Family Services when she was reported missing on Aug. 9. Her body was found in a bag in the Red River a week later.