The Tina Initiative
A support initiative by portrait artist Mike Rilstone
Niagara, Ontario portrait artist, Michael Rilstone, has painted Tina Fontaine, one of the vulnerable Native youth who visited a large city and was killed. She was found murdered, wrapped in plastic, and tossed into Winnipeg, Manitoba's Red River on August 17, 2014. She was only 15 years old!
Winnipeg's Police Sgt. John O’Donovan stated on television, "This is a child that's been murdered. I think society would be horrified if someone put a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child. She has been in this city for barely a month, exploited, murdered and put in the river in this condition."
Rilstone, himself a parent, felt like he had been kicked in the stomach when watching Tina's body being pulled from the river and decided to do something to help stop this carnage. He states, "We are all of the human race, in this together. We must all keep talking, educating, and providing information to stop the travesty."
Crafting an educational plan for schools Canada-wide, he will furnish schools with two teaching aids.
First, Rilstone spent several months on Tina's portrait. Legally blind, he paints one drop at a time, acrylic on canvas, using a toothpick for a brush. He paints looking through a powerful magnifying light, necessary to see where he is applying each drop. Tina's portrait is approximately 25,000 individual drops of paint.
Rilstone says, "I do not understand the Creator, God and spirituality, but I did feel Tina was guiding my hand while painting and helping to formulate this project to educate her peers into the evils that lurk to hurt our Youth."
He creates his portraits in a unique, monochromatic style, generally using shades of grays, plus black and white. When he thought he had finished, Rilstone felt Tina's hand once more and added some blue, which gave high contrast and impact to his finished portrait: a blue teary eye and two blue tear drops on her cheek.
The final portrait is called Trillions of Tears and to Rilstone it represents not only the tears for Canada's Missing & Murdered Native Women and Men, but also the colonialism and genocide that Aboriginal People have suffered on Turtle Island since 1492.
Rilstone plans to supply artist-signed, fine art prints of Trillions of Tears to as many schools in Canada as possible. It will be a constant reminder to our Youth of the evils that lurk in waiting, ready to exploit, hurt and often murder them.
The educational information campaign will also include The Tina Fontaine Story which will recount what a beautiful girl Tina was and her sad demise in Winnipeg.
The Tina Fontaine Story will be co-written by Tina's Family and Rilstone, in consultation with experts specializing in teaching, plus a member of Canada's penal system. The highest percentage of inmates in Canadian prisons are Aboriginal. Hopefully, The Tina Initiative can also assist our Native Youth to make better decisions before they break the law.
This IndieGoGo fundraising drive will assist Rilstone with the launch of The Tina Initiative.
Once operational, Rilstone will be donating a major portion of all proceeds made on the sale of Tina's portrait Trillions of Tears to help keep supplying schools Nationwide with this educational campaign.
Other Ways You Can Help
Thank you for taking your valuable time to learn about, and hopefully support, The Tina Initiative. If you have reached this point, you must be a caring person, wanting our world to be a far better place for all.
We hope to inscribe your name as a Friend of The Tina Initiative on every Trillions of Tears print.
And please share our programme with as many friends as possible!
We CAN save lives and we WILL!
Above all, keep talking about Missing & Murdered Women and Men in Canada. Nothing gets accomplished when the talking stops. Or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
You can find the Friends of The Tina Initiative blog here for updates