” The former city councillor and long-serving, centrist politician didn’t bother apologizing. For decades, the friendly Prairie city has been known for its smiling, lefty premiers, pacifist, Mennonite writers and a love affair with the Jets.
Licence plates here bear the tag “Friendly Manitoba.” But events of last fall served to expose a darker reality.
“Oh Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?
” Winnipeg teacher Brad Badiuk wrote on Facebook last month.
(Their mother had left the girls as babies.) Eugene had been raising the girls on his own in Winnipeg, where he worked at a tire plant. But he never had the chance to bring them back home to Winnipeg. Last spring, Tina ran away twice to Winnipeg to visit her mom—a relationship Thelma encouraged, feeling the girl needed another parental bond after losing her dad.
He knew the girls would be better off with Thelma, his aunt, who had helped raise him. 21, 2003, which still hangs in a simple wooden frame in Thelma’s living room in Powerview-Pine Falls, about 100 km northeast of Winnipeg, Eugene signed over temporary custody of Tina, his “little monkey,” and Sarah, whom he’d lovingly nicknamed “chubby.” Tina, a beautiful wisp of a girl, flourished at École Powerview after Thelma pulled her and Sarah from their reserve school. Her boyfriend was deaf; the pair communicated by texting. He became addicted to his pain medication and the alcohol he was using to cope. 31, 2011—just shy of the four months doctors told him he had left to live—Eugene was beaten to death in a dispute over money. In early July, she allowed Tina to visit her mom in Winnipeg for a week: it was her reward for excellent grades that June.
Eight days later she was pulled from the river, identified by a tattoo on her back bearing the name of her father, Eugene. “Every time I leave the house I feel like I’m having a panic attack.” She can’t forgive herself for letting Tina go to Winnipeg.
A few hours later she was rushed to Children’s Hospital after being found passed out in a core-area back alley. When she woke, Child and Family Services placed Tina in a downtown hotel where she was allowed to walk away.
(In March 2014, the average number of kids in city hotels was 65, up from 17 two years earlier.
The bloated system simply cannot cope with the huge number of children in care in Manitoba.
Police divers discovered her by accident: they were searching the Red for the drowned remains of Faron Hall, the Dakota man dubbed the “Homeless Hero” for twice saving Winnipeggers from the river that eventually took his life.
Tina’s body was found in the same spot where, in March 1961, the remains of Jean Mocharski were found—the first cold case from Winnipeg in a new database of murdered and missing Aboriginal women.