Hundreds rally in downtown Winnipeg to demand search of landfill for women's remains

Hundreds rally in downtown Winnipeg to demand search of landfill for women's remains
Hundreds rally in downtown Winnipeg to demand search of landfill for women's remains 3 August 2023 06:13 PM: Chants to search a landfill for the remains of two First Nations women rang out across downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, as hundreds of people flooded the city's most famous intersection for a round dance.

CBC News counted about 200 people gathered at Portage and Main just after 2 p.m. CT, who stood chanting "search the landfill," before forming into circles for a round dance.

A red dress was painted on the ground of the intersection before the dance began. Some people carried signs painted with red handprints that said: "justice for our sisters," "remember MMIW" and "am I next?"

The group began marching down Portage Avenue to the provincial legislative building shortly after 2:30 p.m., where people called out for action — some with red handprints painted over their mouths — and children put red handprints on the building's front steps.

Two people are pictured painting the pavement with red paint.
A red dress was painted on Portage and Main before the dance began on Thursday afternoon. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

The push to search the privately-run Prairie Green landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran has grown since police announced in December 2022 they believe the homicide victims' remains were taken there, but that by the time they realized that it would not have been feasible to search for them.

Those calls intensified last month when Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said the provincial government would not help pay to search the landfill north of Winnipeg, citing safety concerns and a lack of guarantee of finding anything. A feasibility study completed in May determined a successful search could take up to three years and cost up to $184 million.

Kyra Wilson — chief of Long Plain First Nation, where Harris and Myran were members — called for people to make their opinions known on the province's decision not to support a search ahead of the Manitoba election scheduled for October.

"We need to vote out Heather Stefanson," Wilson said. "We need to make our voices loud and heard."

A young girl in an orange shirt is seen planting orange flags in the grass, among a sea of other orange flags.
Ralliers placed orange flags on the front lawn of the Manitoba legislative building on Thursday. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

Chants of "heartless Heather" also broke out among the crowd, who later placed orange flags across the lawn in front of the legislative building.

Harris and Myran were among four women who police allege were killed by the same man.

Jeremy Skibicki is charged with first-degree murder in their deaths, as well as in the killings of Rebecca Contois and an unidentified woman whom community members have named Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman. His trial is scheduled for 2024.

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