WARNING: This story contains distressing details..
A new barricade has gone up at the Brady Road landfill in Winnipeg, as calls continue to search for the remains of two First Nations women believed to be at another Winnipeg-area landfill.
Protesters gathered Wednesday on the main entrance road to the city-owned Brady Landfill in Winnipeg’s south end, setting up a row of chairs in front of a car parked in the middle of the street.
Also nearby were a flag that said “Every Child Matters” and a sign calling for a search of the landfill.
Winnipeg police say they are aware of the blockade and are communicating with protesters.
Search calls have been increasing for months at the private Prairie Green landfill, north of Winnipeg. Police believe the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, two First Nations women suspected of being victims of a suspected serial killer, were taken to that landfill last year.
An earlier blockade was put in place at the Brady Road landfill on July 6, after Premier Heather Stefanson announced her government would not fund the Prairie Green search.
City of Winnipeg crews and police dismantled that barricade on July 18, after serving a temporary court order a few days earlier ordering its tear down. A new protest camp was then set up near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Over the past week, the Progressive Conservatives, who are running for a third term in next week’s provincial election, have been actively campaigning in their opposition to a search of the Prairie Green landfill, which a feasibility report says could take up to three years and cost up to $184 million.
A full-page party ad in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press highlighted Stefanson’s opposition to a search, which she has repeatedly said would be too dangerous for searchers.
Stefanson also raised the search for landfills during his first opportunity to ask NDP Leader Wab Kinew a question during the party’s televised leaders’ debate last week.
Gerry (Gramma) Shingoose, an Anishinaabe elder and community activist, was on Brady Road on Wednesday. He said the block was lifted again due to Stefanson’s refusal to fund a search and the PCs’ announcement over the weekend.
“She’s causing harm to the families. They’re grieving. It’s a big loss for them,” Shingoose told CBC. “Where is her heart?”
Shingoose said he doesn’t know how long the barricade will remain up, but it would come down if the provincial government committed to a search.
“The election is coming up and it’s … an important time here in Manitoba and Winnipeg, but it’s really an important time for families. That focus should just be on families,” Shingoose said.
People who want to access the landfill can use another entrance, he added.
Search should not be a campaign problem: AMC big boss
In an interview earlier Wednesday, the leader of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said she is disappointed that debate over a possible Prairie Green search has become a campaign issue.
“For certain parties to make it an issue, that’s not right,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, adding that the issue of finding the women’s remains in a landfill is not a First Nations issue. , but moral.
“I don’t think anyone, rightfully so, wouldn’t support bringing them home because we all have relatives, we all have daughters, we all have granddaughters,” he said.
“And if you were in that position, what… would you think if the government said we wouldn’t look for your daughter in the landfills?”
A recent survey suggested that Manitobans are divided over whether to search the landfill.
A focus group of nine voters nominated for CBC Manitoba this week by Probe Research seemed to reflect that as well.
Two voters in the focus group said they thought the PCs’ refusal to search the landfill was “disgusting,” while two others said they did not “100 percent” agree with a search.
However, none said the search for the landfill was a deciding factor in how they planned to vote.
“I feel like there are much bigger issues than that kind of work first,” said Cole Stocki, a focus group participant who lives in Kirkfield Park in Winnipeg.
Nigel Moore of River Heights, who rides in Winnipeg, said he found it “remarkable” that the search was becoming a campaign issue.
The focus group was a collaboration between CBC Manitoba and Probe Research to learn more about voters’ opinions and get an idea of where they stand on the issues. The polling company identified potential participants from its panel and then randomly selected nine people to ensure a mix of people reasonably representative of Manitoba demographics.
It is important to have a clear position: PC candidate
Protesters calling for a search also gathered Wednesday morning outside the precinct office of Kirkfield Park PC candidate Kevin Klein, who made a campaign ad about domestic violence there. The owner said that the issue is one that “all parties are generating division.”
“It shouldn’t be that way. But we’re seeing all sides make this a divisive issue and that’s unfortunate,” Klein said after his announcement.
When asked about PC’s announcements, Klein said Stefanson has remained firm in his position on finding landfills.
“She felt it was very important to be clear and transparent about our position on this,” he said.
The Manitoba election will take place on October 3. Early voting is open now and continues through Saturday.
Support is available to anyone affected by these reports. You can talk to a mental health professional through Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or texting WELL-BEING to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It’s free and confidential.
Additionally, a national crisis line is available in Indian residential schools to provide support to survivors and those affected. People can access crisis and emotional referral services by calling the 24-hour service at 1-866-925-4419.
Mental health counseling and crisis support is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat.