Families of two allegedly murdered women from Long Plain First Nation, Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, are pleading for the Winnipeg Police Service to reconsider their findings to deem a search for the bodies of their loved ones, believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill, unfeasible. Chief Danny Smyth said this week it's believed the remains of Harris and Myran ended up in the landfill in the spring and the chances of finding them are very low.
Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with First Degree Murder in the cases related to these women, in addition to the death of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found in an apartment and in the Brady Landfill in May.
Disposal operations at the Prairie Green Landfill outside Winnipeg have now been paused as calls to search the area for the remains of the two Indigenous women. Premier Heather Stefanson stated late Thursday the management of the Prairie Green landfill has halted operations as the province and the city figure out what to do.
Denise Thiessen from the Pembina Valley REDress Project, reached out to Winnipeg Métis Artist, Jaime Black founder of the project, to see how they could support the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirited People (MMIWG2S) during this time of trauma and grief.
The PV REDress Project brings awareness to communities of MMIWG2S through displays of red dresses hung in parks and art galleries, involving schools and community member's voices to bring awareness to the many women, girls and two spirit people who have been murdered, and in many cases, their bodies, nor justice, have been found.
Thiessen reminded people this is not only a Winnipeg situation, adding everyone needs to be aware people have lost family members and friends right here in our cities, towns, and rural municipalities.
"Myself, personally, I've never had somebody go missing. I can't even fathom what that would feel like to have that person not at the table, not knowing where they are, not knowing if they're in a warm place or a safe place, or if something horrible is happening to them."
Thiessen shared her reaction to the decision not to search the landfill.
"If that was my mom, or my daughter, or my sister, I can't imagine how angry I would be. Listening to the news of the police, and the reasons why, and listening to the family, everything inside me doesn't understand, and it doesn't make sense, to me, why it's still open and being dumped on. At the very least, close it up and lock it up."
Thiessen emotionally continued.
"I am hugely fearful for the future of our landfills because of this. I'm sure it's been happening for generations. The awareness is there now, now we need to do something about it. This is not going to get better. It is going to get much, much worse, and it's not right. Something needs to be done with this. I don't know what, I really don't, but that's where we need to listen to those families. I just know if it was my immediate sister, mother, daughter, I'd be screaming from the rooftops."
In contrast, when asked what she is hearing from her Indigenous friends in the community, her eyes widened as she opened up.
"Silence. They're hurting. We all only have so much fight when we're hurting. They're angry, for sure. They're scared. They're terrified. There are so many emotions. But they're silent." she went on to explain, "You think about yourself when you grieve. Do you really want to be screaming from the rooftops? You want to be with family, friends. You want peace. Where is the peace?"
Black responded to Thiessen asking her to put out a call to action for people to spread support and awareness, and to start fighting by hanging a red dress in the window of their homes, businesses, churches and schools.
Thiessen encouraged anyone with questions, or wanting to learn more, to reach out to the PV REDress Project.
With file from the Canadian Press