Protests demanding a search of a Manitoba landfill for the remains of slain Indigenous women will take place across Canada on Monday.
From Victoria to Halifax, demonstrators will march to their local government buildings to protest and call on the Manitoba and federal governments to conduct a search of a landfill to recover the bodies of four women allegedly killed by one man.
Tara Martinez, who oversees public education at the Children First Society of Canada, organized the Indigenous Day of Action, with the provincial legislature as the backdrop.
“Our silence is compliance of the violence,” said Martinez.
On Monday, the lawn at the government building will be filled with red dresses to urge the provincial government to search the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.
These two First Nations women are believed to have been victims of the alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, and authorities suspect their remains are buried in the landfill just north of Winnipeg.
Jeremy Skibicki faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of the two women, as well as Rebecca Contois and an unidentified woman known only as Buffalo Woman.
The event on Monday will include speeches, drumming, dances, and marches in 17 cities across the country.
While Tara Martinez appreciates the support, she finds it bittersweet, saying, “On one hand, it’s really good to have all the support, but on the other hand, Cambria is 22 years old. She shouldn’t have to fight so hard to simply search in the first place.”
Cambria Harris, the daughter of Morgan Harris, has been a leading voice in the call to search the landfill, even after the current province declared it wasn’t feasible.
“We’re gonna keep getting louder; you’re going to keep hearing our voices,” Cambria Harris said at an August 3 rally.
Progressive Conservative Party leader Heather Stefanson has stated she won’t support a search due to health and safety risks, while the Manitoba Liberal Party has pledged to fund 50% of the estimated $184 million cost to search the north Winnipeg site if they form the government after the October 3 election.
NDP leader Wab Kinew has promised to do what current Premier Heather Stefanson won’t if elected, which is to “try.”
This upcoming event has reignited conversations about reconciliation and the value of Indigenous lives.
“For Indigenous folks, there’s a level of, ‘could I be next?’ And for non-Indigenous folks, figuring out ‘how do I be an ally? Where do we go from here, what do I do?'” said Priscilla Omulo, who is organizing tomorrow’s demonstration in Victoria.
“People are speaking of reconciliation, and they think it’s moving along just fine. But a genuine step would be to bring these women home to their families.”
Landfill searches have been successful in the past, including in 2021 when the remains of 57-year-old Nathaniel Brettell were found in an Ontario landfill after a several-month long search.
Tara Martinez is now waiting for an answer to the call that has been put out for many months.
“I hope that this will be the last one we have to do and we’ll be able to search,” she said. “But knowing how our government works, we’re just getting started.”