Tina Fontaine's cousin dies after being shot in head, home set on fire, family says

House where Tina Fontaine's cousin killed well known to police

A Winnipeg family says the young woman who was shot and killed in the city's north end earlier this week was Jeanenne Fontaine, the cousin of Tina Fontaine, the teen girl whose death became one of the country's best-known cases of murdered Indigenous women. 

Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, was found in her home on Tuesday. The mother of three had been shot in the back of the head, according to her family, and the house was on fire.

She was rushed to hospital but died on Wednesday morning, after being taken off life support. 

- UPDATE: House where Jeanenne Fontaine found known to police

Her mother, Lana Fontaine, said Jeanenne's brother was also home at the time and heard the gunshot, but escaped unharmed.

Rhonda Flett, Jeanenne's aunt, said her niece was a bright-spirited young woman.

"She was a lively, beautiful Native girl," Flett said. "Everybody wanted to be around her. She was kind. She liked to laugh. She made us laugh."

"She's going to [be] very missed. We're going to miss her a lot. A piece of our family got taken and can't be replaced."

Investigators say the fire was likely set on purpose, and is now under investigation by the city's homicide unit. 

The family is pleading for anyone with information to come forward. 

Candid interview

Flett said her niece moved into the home on Aberdeen Avenue following the death of Flett's other niece, 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, in 2014. 

Tina's death came as many were calling for a national inquiry into unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. 

Several months later, Jeanenne Fontaine gave CBC News a candid interview about her own struggles with drug use and prostitution.

She said she had previously kicked a drug habit, and had been clean for four years, but her cousin's death caused a relapse.

"After Tina, it kind of messed me up, like I just wanted to forget the loss," she said at the time. 

She was also facing a charge of human trafficking but that was changed to a charge of advertising sexual services. Jeanenne was eventually convicted of that.

She told CBC she got into the sex trade to support her drug addiction, but insisted she never forced anyone else into prostitution.

Jeanenne shared the Aberdeen home with her mother, Lana, who Flett said is now homeless.

"She has nothing. She has no clothes, no furniture, nothing. She has nowhere to go," she said. "All she's concentrating on right now is her daughter."

'We're scared'

Another Indigenous woman, 21 year-old Shania Chartrand was shot and killed in Winnipeg on Sunday. The women's deaths are reverberating throughout their community.

"People are praying. People are in shock," said Gerry Shingoose, who is known as a community grandmother. "We're scared. I'm scared. I'm scared for our women.

"Our young girls are so precious to us. We need to take care of them. We need to take care of them every which way that we can," she said. "We need to nurture them with love, and that's not happening."

​Kim Kostiuk, a volunteer with Drag the Red, an organization which started searching the Red River for bodies after Tina Fontaine was found there, said she was shocked and heartbroken at the pair of deaths and the news Jeanenne was related to Tina Fontaine.

She's organizing a vigil for Jeanenne on Saturday at the Aberdeen home, which Shingoose said she plans to attend.

"We want this to be out there. We want this to stop. We need this violence to stop," Kostiuk said. "We are human beings just like everybody else. We don't deserve this. Nobody deserves this."

Kostiuk said she wants to see change.

"We need more resources, for certain. We need more women's shelters, definitely. More addictions programs," she said.

"We need to do more marches to support women. We need to put it out there in the community. We need to do these vigils to let people know that we need to take back what is rightfully ours: the community. We need to stand up and say let's stop this violence, we've had enough."