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Manitoba NDP will stick to landfill promise, MLA says

A tear rolls down the cheek of Bernadette Smith, from Winnipeg, as she talks about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry in this file photo. The MLA was reelected on Tuesday and says the new NDP government will stick to a promise to search a landfill for the remains of missing Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Point Douglas MLA Bernadette Smith says the new NDP government under premier-designate Wab Kinew will stick to its promise and search a local landfill for the remains of Indigenous women.

Smith, handily re-elected Tuesday night to another term, is a longtime advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women since her own sister’s disappearance in 2008. She told 680 CJOB’s The Start that a search will happen.

“Not even as a government, but just as human beings, we have to do something,” Smith said.

“The experts have said it can be done. There are going to be some risks (but) there are risks in every single job that people do.

“We need to listen to the experts, and we as a party have said we would do that, so we’re going to work with the experts and move forward with that and see how it can be done safely.”

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The Prairie Green Landfill, north of Winnipeg, was a controversial topic during Manitoba’s election campaign.

The remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran — victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki — are believed to have been dumped in the landfill last year, but outgoing Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson was steadfast in her refusal to search the site.

Click to play video: 'Demonstrators demand landfill searches for missing Indigenous women'
Demonstrators demand landfill searches for missing Indigenous women

Stefanson’s Progressive Conservatives campaigned on “Standing Firm” about the decision not to search the landfill, citing health and safety concerns.

That stance was criticized by Indigenous organizations, the federal government, groups like Amnesty International, and both of the PCs’ main election opponents, the NDP and Manitoba Liberals, who each called for action on the issue if elected.

The Manitoba NDP cruised to victory Tuesday night in a historic win for the province and the nation.

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Smith said Kinew, who will be the first First Nations premier of a Canadian province, is changing the face of Canadian politics and giving Indigenous youth someone to look up to.

“The highest place in our province, in the Manitoba legislature … how proud these children are going to grow up, to see someone representative in that premier’s chair,” she said.

“To walk into that building and see that person’s picture on that wall, and to think that they can aspire to be that.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew marks victory as first First Nations premier-designate'
Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew marks victory as first First Nations premier-designate

The federal government says it will provide $740,000 toward further assessing the feasibility of a landfill search.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree made the announcement Wednesday and said more research is needed to figure out how a search can be undertaken, based on the findings of an initial feasibility study — but that the federal government aims to work with the province on the next steps.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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