Canadian protestors call for search for missing Indigenous women
WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Next to the Canadian Museum For Human Rights is a small encampment with a handful of tents and a camp kitchen. Signs are posted all around – some read “we are not garbage” and “search the landfills.”
It’s an effort by Indigenous people to raise concerns and call on officials to search landfills for their missing and murdered relatives. Among the women they want found and brought home are Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26.
Police believe the women are victims of an alleged serial killer and that their remains could be in a landfill. Two camps have been set up to keep pressure on officials and draw awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Two Spirit, and Gender-Diverse People.
The issue of missing and murdered people is important to tribal communities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. It has been the topic of news reports, podcasts, documentaries – and protests.
On a recent morning, Shining Gold Star spoke about Camp Marcedes, named after Myran. He’s been there since the camp was set up in July.
“It’s to honor the missing and murdered, especially the landfill, its focus is on: Search the landfill,” Gold Star said.
Red handprints are drawn on sidewalks and benches along walking paths near a river and park. A number of empty red dresses also are displayed, symbolizing the missing and murdered.
More than 30 minutes away is the city-operated Brady landfill, where distress flags fly at Camp Morgan, named after Harris.
Red dresses are positioned around another camp with tents, a wigwam and teepees. Some protestors say they’ve been in the area since December. Others, like Ida Manuelof British Columbia, felt compelled to come this summer.
“My heart, going out to the families affected and I just had to answer that call. … How could you be human any other way,” Manuel said.
Remains of Rebecca Contois, 24, were found at the Brady landfill last year.
A blockade at the road leading up to the landfill had been set up, but was dismantled. Now, dumping continues.
“For us to stand and say we are not trash and still not be heard. You know, it really needs to be connected – Canada’s lack of respect … with [what] colonialism set out to do to Indigenous [people],” Manuel said.
Another landfill, Prairie Green, is privately operated outside Winnipeg. The Manitoba government cites costs, as well as health and safety concerns, for not conducting a search at the landfill for Harris and Myran.
Advocates say they’re prepared to camp through the winter. They also hope new provincial leadership will be elected this fall to offer assistance.
Last year, Jeremy Skibicki was charged for the murder of the three women and a fourth unidentified woman.