Rallies call on Manitoba, feds to search landfill for murder victims

Cries of “search the landfill” and “bring them home” rang out on Parliament Hill, the Manitoba Legislature and across the country Monday.

Families and advocates gathered from coast-to-coast to continue calls on all levels of government to find a way to search the Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.

Gatherings were held at government buildings on Monday in multiple cities and communities across Canada including at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to mark what was being billed as the Search the Landfill International Day of Action.

In Winnipeg, family members of Harris and Myran continue to call for a search of the Prairie Green Landfill for the two Indigenous women’s remains, after police said more than nine months ago that they believe they were both killed and dumped there by a serial killer, but in July Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson announced the province would offer no support for a search of the facility located north of Winnipeg.

Myran’s grandmother Donna Bartlett spoke at Monday’s rally in Winnipeg that was attended by hundreds of people, and she said she wondered if the premier would have come to a different decision if it was someone that she knew and loved whose remains were laying in a garbage dump.

“Stefanson doesn’t want to go search for her, and if it was her daughter or her granddaughter I think she would look right away,” Bartlett said to applause from the crowd. “Why not get our women out and bring them home, just because they are First Nations that does not mean you can’t look.

“If your daughter or granddaughter was in a landfill and no one wanted to even look for her what would you do? You’d be crying and fighting, and that’s what we are doing.

“Show us some respect, and quit making us beg all the time.”

Myran’s sister Felicia spoke as well on Monday and she asked what message it was sending to young Indigenous people when governments won’t step up and search for missing Indigenous women’s remains.

“What happens when young ones want to visit their relative’s graves? Do we have to tell sons and daughters and grandchildren that their loved one is no longer here, and that they are in the trash,” she asked.

“Just please recognize the imprint you are leaving on not only us but the children, you are telling them it’s OK for someone to be left in the trash.

“We are not trash, we need to search the landfall and put an end to these horror stories.”

During the rally in Winnipeg, dozens joined hands and took part in a round dance as a show of solidarity.

Advocates and families have for months been calling for a search of the Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of Harris and Myran, two women whose remains are believed to have been dumped at the landfill north of Winnipeg.

Jeremy Skibicki Skibicki was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of four women in December, including Harris and Myran.

He has also been charged in the death of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found last year at Brady Road Landfill and an unidentified woman that Indigenous leaders have called Buffalo Woman, whose remains have not been found.

A feasibility study released earlier this year said a search for Harris and Myran was feasible, could cost as much as $184 million, could pose health and safety threats to workers, and that there was no guarantee that it would be successful.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson announced on July 6 the province would not offer assistance to search the Prairie Green Landfill, saying she came to the decision because of the results of the feasibility study.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun