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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine

Joanna Jolly

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Canada, True crime, Gender studies: women

The gripping, eye-opening true story of a murder which riveted Canada and became a rallying cry for justice, by an award-winning reporter.

RED RIVER GIRL is the gripping, eye-opening true story of a murder which riveted Canada and became a rallying cry for justice, by award-winning reporter Joanna Jolly.

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg's Red River. A tragedy for Tina's family and community on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve, her murder also became a symbol for the racial and gender discrimination which Canada has never properly addressed. Indigenous women in Canada are four times as likely to be murdered or go missing than other Canadian women, and these cases are often left unsolved. But the unusual police detective in charge of Fontaine's case was determined to find her killer.

Joanna Jolly chronicles Fontaine's troubled life, from her childhood with her father and great-aunt on the reserve, to her harrowing descent into drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death. And Jolly tells the incredible story of the meticulous police investigation and headline-grabbing trial that followed the discovery of her body.

Tina Fontaine is not just a statistic. And RED RIVER GIRL is not only a riveting true crime story, but a portrait of a community, an expose of inequality in a country we think of as a liberal haven, and a celebration of the indigenous women, community leaders and activists who are fighting back.

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Joanna Jolly

Joanna Jolly is an award-winning BBC reporter based in London. She began her journalism career at the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, moving on from there to freelance in India and Australia before covering the fight for independence in East Timor. Over the past decade, she's worked as a BBC producer and reporter in Jerusalem, South Africa, Brussels, Washington, and India as well as spending two years as the BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Nepal. During that time Jolly specialized in stories of sexual violence against women. In 2016, she earned a prestigious Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Jolly has won several awards, including the 2007 BBC Onassis Bursary. In 2014, she won the Association of International Broadcaster's best RADIO current affairs documentary award for her in-depth look at the prosecution of rape in India. In 2015, her documentary on missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada won the Amnesty Award for best radio. In 2017, she was awarded a Judges' Special Commendation at the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction. Red River Girl is her first book.

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