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Several First Nations groups have criticized Winnipeg police for not searching the landfill where the remains of two women who were killed by an alleged serial killer are believed to be located, and have called for help from Ottawa.
“With this inaction by the Winnipeg Police Service, we have to speak up for our loved ones as the decision not to search has broken trust,” read a letter signed by the Manitoba Conference of Chiefs, a Southern Chiefs group. Read by Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Manitoba Assembly of First Nations and Long Plain First Nation.
The letter to federal ministers Mark Miller, Patti Haydu and Marco Mendicino asks the federal government to help search the Prairie Green landfill, a week after Winnipeg police said the search was not feasible.
On Monday, Winnipeg Police Chief Markus Chambers said Aboriginal communities need to advocate for landfill searches.
“Consultations have been held to determine the feasibility of a search,” he said. “We know the Aboriginal community is not happy with this. So they should be reaching out to all levels of government now, because the invitation has been offered, so that they can determine what the next steps are.”
A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Northern Affairs said Monday that any request for operational assistance to the RCMP needs to come from the Winnipeg Police Service.
The letter calls on Ottawa to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to oversee the search, provide resources for a feasibility study, and provide necessary support and resource funding to affected families.
The letter also wants Ottawa to agree to call in the RCMP if Winnipeg police refuse to conduct a search, and to provide funds to cover costs associated with the search and recovery.
Police believe the bodies of Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, were placed in the Prairie Green landfill in the spring. Operations at the landfill have been suspended pending a decision on next steps.
Jeremy Skibicki is accused of killing Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois and a fourth unidentified Buffalo woman Woman guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the death of the woman. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Police said they believe the four women were killed in the spring, though investigators have so far only found Contoire’s remains in the city’s trash cans and the Brady landfill.
Police said a search of the Prairie Green landfill was not feasible due to the passage of time, the amount of waste dumped in the area and the fact that the waste at the landfill was compacted with heavy clay.
– Documents from Canadian media
People affected by missing and killed Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people can call the support line at 1-844-413-6649.
The Commonwealth also provides additional mental health and community-based emotional support and cultural services.