Calls to search a Manitoba landfill for the remains of slain Indigenous women will be heard across the country Monday.
From Victoria to Halifax protesters will march to the steps of their local government buildings to protest and demand the Manitoba government pay to sift through over 61,000 tonnes of trash to bring home the bodies of four women, alleged to have been killed by one man.
Tara Martinez organized the Indigenous Day of Action which will happen with the provincial legislature as the backdrop.
“Our silence is compliance of the violence,” said Martinez, who oversees public education at the Children First Society of Canada.
The lawn at the government building will be covered in red on Monday. Protesters plan to fill the space with red dresses to compel the provincial government to search the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.
The two First Nations women are suspected to have been victims of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki and police believe their remains lay under rubble at a landfill, just north of Winnipeg.
Skibicki faces first degree murder charges in the deaths of the two women, as well as Rebecca Contois and an unidentified woman only known as Buffalo Woman.
The Monday event will see speeches, drumming, dances and marches in 17 cities across the country.
To see the support is bittersweet for Martinez.
“On one hand, it’s really good to have all the support, but on the other hand, Cambria is 22 years old,” she said. “She shouldn’t have to fight so hard to simply search in the first place.”
Cambria Harris, the daughter of Morgan Harris, has been at the forefront of calls to search the landfill even after the current province said it wasn’t feasible.
“We’re gonna keep getting louder, you’re going to keep hearing our voices,” she said at an Aug. 3 rally.
Progressive Conservative party leader Heather Stefanson said she won’t support a search due to health and safety risks, while the Manitoba Liberal Party said if their party forms government after the Oct. 3 election it would fund 50 per cent of the $184 million it is estimated to cost to search the north Winnipeg site.
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NDP leader Wab Kinew said if elected, he’ll do what current Premier Heather Stefanson won’t, which is “try.”
The upcoming event has also renewed conversations of 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 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.
For Martinez, she’s only now waiting on an answer to the call 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.”
— with files from Katherine Dornian