Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine

A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city. On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg's Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder in...

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Title:Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine
Author:Joanna Jolly
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine Reviews

  • Alison

    This investigative look into the murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine reads like a crime novel. It is extremely well written and researched and shines a light on the appalling treatment of indigenous women in Canada and elsewhere. As a resident of Manitoba, I was a little defensive at her portrayal of Winnipeg at first, but then I realized that the Winnipeg that Tina Fontaine lived in is not the Winnipeg I live in. But it is the sad and terrible reality for so many. Everyone should read this book

    This investigative look into the murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine reads like a crime novel. It is extremely well written and researched and shines a light on the appalling treatment of indigenous women in Canada and elsewhere. As a resident of Manitoba, I was a little defensive at her portrayal of Winnipeg at first, but then I realized that the Winnipeg that Tina Fontaine lived in is not the Winnipeg I live in. But it is the sad and terrible reality for so many. Everyone should read this book. And then everyone should stand up and do something to change things. It’s devastating that they were not able to get a confession out of Cormier. I think it’s pretty clear that he’s guilty after reading the book. This one is a definite five star for me.

  • Eric

    While Red River Girl by Joanna Jolly has the main focus on the disappearance and murder of fifteen-year-old Tina Fontaine, the book is much broader than that. Tina Fontaine was a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl in Canada, that like of so many other young women, found herself on city streets only to be exploited, abused and murdered.

    Joanna Jolly not only provides an in-depth history of Tina Fontaine and those surrounding her, but also details the plight of the many Indigenous women of Canada th

    While Red River Girl by Joanna Jolly has the main focus on the disappearance and murder of fifteen-year-old Tina Fontaine, the book is much broader than that. Tina Fontaine was a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl in Canada, that like of so many other young women, found herself on city streets only to be exploited, abused and murdered.

    Joanna Jolly not only provides an in-depth history of Tina Fontaine and those surrounding her, but also details the plight of the many Indigenous women of Canada that are too quick to be forgotten, or worse, ignored, in their existence and mistreatment. She also describes in detail the long, in-depth and creative investigation of what happened before and after Tina Fontaine's clothed corpse was found in the Red River in a knotted up duvet, weighted down with rocks.

    All around, Red River Girl is a sad and distressing story, but one that is important to tell. Jolly's book is an excellent portrayal of what is often described as a "police procedural" while at the same time being more than that. The book avoids becoming a moralistic polemic while detailing the terrible indifference too many people have toward Indigenous people and is told in a well-researched, "just the facts" manner that enthralls the reader to carry on through the book even though the outcome of the investigation and trial of the suspect is revealed to the reader just a few pages into the prologue.

    Highly recommended to those that enjoy in-depth, historical true crime books where each character, whether villainous or heroic, is researched, examined and detailed.

    An ARC of this book was provided by Net Galley for review.

  • Brooke

    4.5 stars.

    tells the tragic true story of Tina Fontaine, a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River on August 17, 2014. The book focuses primarily on the murder investigation conducted by the Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit, led by Sgt. John O’Donovan, but it also provides a glimpse into Tina’s short life and broader Indigenous issues in Canada. Tina’s death and the case that ensued shocked and outraged many people ac

    4.5 stars.

    tells the tragic true story of Tina Fontaine, a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River on August 17, 2014. The book focuses primarily on the murder investigation conducted by the Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit, led by Sgt. John O’Donovan, but it also provides a glimpse into Tina’s short life and broader Indigenous issues in Canada. Tina’s death and the case that ensued shocked and outraged many people across Canada, especially Indigenous communities, and was the breaking point that resulted in increased activism and calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. The treatment of Indigenous people and the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada is not well-known around the world, as it goes against everything that Canada claims to stand for, and I sincerely hope that

    gains popularity and exposes the secret that Canada would rather keep quiet.

    It has only been in the last few years that the magnitude of suffering experienced by Indigenous people in Canada has been recognized and acknowledged. Growing up in a small, rural town in Ontario, I was surrounded by people who held prejudiced and racist beliefs about Indigenous people, and I was never formally (or informally) taught about Indigenous history or culture. Research has found that children develop prejudices at an early age through socialization and exposure to misinformation about other cultures, and that prejudice is an inescapable consequence of living in a systematically racist society. Given this, it is no wonder that I developed my own prejudices against Indigenous people. When I started university, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about Indigenous affairs in Canada, which has allowed me to challenge my prejudices (as well as the prejudices of those around me). Now, I consider myself fairly well-educated about Indigenous issues, so the broader background information provided in this book did not come as a surprise to me. While the author, Joanna Jolly, provided this information throughout the book, I would have liked a short chapter at the start that provided a more in-depth overview of Indigenous issues in Canada, especially considering that many readers may not have any previous knowledge of the subject. Tina’s case does not exist in a vacuum – it is the result of a legacy of violence, neglect, and wrongdoing perpetrated by the Canadian government against Indigenous peoples – and it is important to understand how these factors contributed to Tina’s death.

    At first, I was a little unsure about the fact that Jolly is not Indigenous, as I would have liked to see an #OwnVoices account penned by an Indigenous author. However, from my perspective, Jolly provided a respectful portrayal of Tina’s case and Indigenous affairs in Canada, and did not insert her own opinion into the narrative.

    was well-written, well-researched, and compelling, and I was never overwhelmed by or bogged down in the details, which can often happen in true crime books. Although it is an incredibly sad and frustrating case which does not have a happy ending, I appreciated the comprehensive account of Tina’s case and the murder investigation. I hope this book inspires readers, especially if they are Canadian, to learn more about Indigenous issues and to speak up against prejudices and the way our institutions continue to fail the Indigenous population.

    In summary,

    is an engaging and important true crime account of Tina Fontaine’s short life and tragic death, which shines a light on broader Indigenous issues in Canada. I highly recommend it.

    Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Viking for providing me with an eARC of

    in exchange for an honest review.

  • Carla (Carla's Book Bits)

    My review can be found inside:

  • Valerity (Val)

    This is author Joanna Jolly’s debut book on the death of Tina Fontaine. Tina was a Canadian girl, one of a number of aboriginal females who had gone missing and later turned up dead in the Red River. It’s written about as part of a larger problem of sexual exploitation with so many aboriginal young females. But the focus is on this girl for the purposes of this book. There is a lot of pressure for the police to make some progress in the case, and it continues to grow. There are several suspects,

    This is author Joanna Jolly’s debut book on the death of Tina Fontaine. Tina was a Canadian girl, one of a number of aboriginal females who had gone missing and later turned up dead in the Red River. It’s written about as part of a larger problem of sexual exploitation with so many aboriginal young females. But the focus is on this girl for the purposes of this book. There is a lot of pressure for the police to make some progress in the case, and it continues to grow. There are several suspects, and they are careful to take the time to rule them out correctly before focusing on the final one. All of that takes time. The final suspect turns out to be very slippery, and they have to go above and beyond to convince themselves and the Crown that it’s the correct person.

    I found this to be an engaging true story of Tina Fontaine’s life and tragic killing. She was just beginning to test her wings in a larger city, and when allowed a bit of freedom took too much and got in over her head. I’d recommend it for true crime readers. It held my interest quite well, and I’d recommend it. A good first effort for Ms. Jolly. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Joanna Jolly, and the publisher.

    Also found on my BookZone blog:

  • Erin

    Journalist Joanna Jolly takes readers back to 2014 when the body of 15 year old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. The investigation into her death would spark a nationwide demand for the Canadian government to conduct an inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered cases involving indigenous women.

    This book looks at the brief life of Tina Fon

    Journalist Joanna Jolly takes readers back to 2014 when the body of 15 year old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. The investigation into her death would spark a nationwide demand for the Canadian government to conduct an inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered cases involving indigenous women.

    This book looks at the brief life of Tina Fontaine, the investigation into her death, and a full access look into the Canadian system.

    With the recent findings of the national inquiry that the cases of missing and murdered women is in fact a "genocide," ( June 2019), books, such as, Red River Girl, could certainly help further understanding.

    Goodreads Review 14/07/19

    Publication Date 27/08/19

  • ❤️

    I went back and forth between whether I even wanted to read this book or not. When it was first brought to my attention that a book about Tina Fontaine was being released this year, I thought, "good". When I found out that it was written by a British journalist based out of London, England, I couldn't help but feel apprehensive, wondering why she wanted to be the one to tell Tina's story

    I went back and forth between whether I even wanted to read this book or not. When it was first brought to my attention that a book about Tina Fontaine was being released this year, I thought, "good". When I found out that it was written by a British journalist based out of London, England, I couldn't help but feel apprehensive, wondering why she wanted to be the one to tell Tina's story and to put it in the form of a true crime book.

    I'm relieved to say that I found Jolly's handling of this case to be, for the most part, well done, and it is clear throughout the book that she took the case very seriously. While the subtitle of the book is 'The Life And Death Of Tina Fontaine', the book definitely leans more toward her death - specifically focusing mostly on her accused killer, Raymond Cormier, and how the use of a Mr. Big sting lead to his being the prime suspect in the case, as well as how his trial ended in a shocking acquittal. The author goes quite in depth into these two aspects of Tina's case and really gives the reader an idea of who Cormier is and how Winnipeg detectives struggled to get an official confession out of him.

    However, as well done as those two aspects of the book are, I felt like Tina's story got slightly lost within it. This is not to say that I think the author didn't care enough about Tina - it was evident to me that she

    care about Tina. But I would have liked for her to have written more comprehensively about the Child Welfare workers and the police who so tragically failed Tina. It is such a huge factor into what happened to Tina, and I felt that the role that systemic racism, dehumanization and apathy plays into the all too common failures of young Indigenous boys and girls in this country should have been more of a focal point in telling this story.

    Let us not forget that the same night she disappeared, police officers spoke to Tina, who was a passenger in a truck known to police for soliciting prostitution (and, in fact, had been stopped just a few hours earlier that night for that very thing), ran her name through their database, saw that she was marked as being missing and only fifteen years old and at high risk of sexual exploitation, and for some reason decided to let her go.

    fact in itself, and the institutional connotations that go with it, could take up an entire book alone. I personally felt that it was just a tad too succinctly discussed in the book, whereas Raymond Cormier's bizarre life and interests, as well as lead investigator John O'Donovan's melancholic feelings on Tina's death were especially elaborated on. Perhaps the book could have been slightly longer, so as to have more opportunity and space to delve further into Canada's systemic problems regarding its treatment of Indigenous youth and its role in what lead to Tina's murder for those who come into this book with little or no prior knowledge.

    Still, overall, this book does do a good job at detailing the fundamentals of Tina Fontaine's case. And anything that aids in bringing her story to more people is a good thing.

  • Sarah

    3.5 rounded down

    Joanna Jolly's debut draws attention to a societal issue which is gradually gaining more press: the murder of Indigenous girls and woman in Canada.

    takes its title from the Winnipeg river in which 14-year-old Tina Fontaine's body was found in August 2014.

    Tina was raised over 100km from Winnipeg, on the Sagkeeng First Nation. The book tracks Tina's life from birth to her last known movements in the days before her death, going some way to examine

    3.5 rounded down

    Joanna Jolly's debut draws attention to a societal issue which is gradually gaining more press: the murder of Indigenous girls and woman in Canada.

    takes its title from the Winnipeg river in which 14-year-old Tina Fontaine's body was found in August 2014.

    Tina was raised over 100km from Winnipeg, on the Sagkeeng First Nation. The book tracks Tina's life from birth to her last known movements in the days before her death, going some way to examine how Tina went from being a teenager growing up in a loving family to one who ended up involved in drugs and the sex trade. It also details the deaths of other First Nations women in Canada, culminating in Justin Trudeau's independent inquiry into violence against and murder off Indigenous women in 2017.

    Overall the book makes for a compelling read, however there were a few aspects that let it down slightly for me. I would have liked to have known more about Tina herself, as the only real perspective we get on her life is from her great aunt and an ex-boyfriend. I also found the sections on the accused, Raymond Cormier, to be bit protracted, but with no other key suspects I understand why the book focused on him.

  • Nigel

    In brief - Not an easy one to review for me. The overarching story of institutional racism needed telling and came across well. The individual case I'm less sure about.

    In full

    The basic idea of this book appealed to me a lot. Essentially it looks at the way native indigenous people and particularly women, have been treated in Canada. The other thread in this is the case of Tina Fontaine, an indigenous teenage girl, who went missing in 2014. The author had access to both the police and thei

    In brief - Not an easy one to review for me. The overarching story of institutional racism needed telling and came across well. The individual case I'm less sure about.

    In full

    The basic idea of this book appealed to me a lot. Essentially it looks at the way native indigenous people and particularly women, have been treated in Canada. The other thread in this is the case of Tina Fontaine, an indigenous teenage girl, who went missing in 2014. The author had access to both the police and their case regarding Tina's disappearance. It was the case that finally brought a far deeper consciousness of the problem not only in the native community but also in the wider (and white) public. For me there was a feel of the Lawrence case in the UK in this.

    Tina's case was handled mainly by Sergeant John O'Donovan. O'Donovan emigrated to Canada from Ireland at 28 and never intended to become a policeman. It felt to me that he was not part of the core establishment in some ways. Certainly there had been plenty of deaths of native people, particularly female and young, which the police had taken little interest in. This case bothered O'Donovan and it also raised awareness of the topic generally in the eyes of the public at large.

    The book looks at the general treatment of indigenous females in some detail. It quickly becomes apparent that there is a long history of ignoring crimes against native women generally. Frequently the blame is simply placed on their "lifestyles" and not investigated. Given that these crimes include murder and rape it amazed me that there had not been far more outcry earlier.

    Tina's murder was a sad story. Family issues coupled with teenage life and angst seem to have left her angry and vulnerable. The police find a credible suspect quite early on. However there is a lack of real evidence against him. Those who expect a satisfactory crime thriller will not find it in this. The whole police case is fraught with difficulties. Given that this is a real and powerful story at times it's sad that the police case is not the strongest.

    On balance I'm very pleased I read this. The story needed telling. In my simple opinion Canadian society seems to have been disinterested in crimes against native women. This case appears to have changed that at least. I'd prefer not to give anything else away as others will find this a worthwhile read. Frankly I'm not quite sure how to rate this. Indeed I'm not sure who the target audience is. My feeling is that if the topic interests you then it should be a good read. It is a little detailed in places however I kept reading happily. A sad story but one that needed telling.

    Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review

  • Bookread2day

    Tragic true story .

    Each year, Canadian women are murderd or disappear never to be seen again. Some end up in a river that runs through the heart of Winnipeg. Red river Girl is the account of the unsolved death of an indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

    on 17th August 2014, the body of fifteen year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found weighed down in the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. Her death caused an ou

    Tragic true story .

    Each year, Canadian women are murderd or disappear never to be seen again. Some end up in a river that runs through the heart of Winnipeg. Red river Girl is the account of the unsolved death of an indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

    on 17th August 2014, the body of fifteen year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found weighed down in the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. Her death caused an outcry across Canada.

    BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly has done a really good story reconstructing Tina's life from her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve to her difficult teenage years. The killer was charged with second-degree murder.

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