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Hundreds chant ‘we are not trash,’ close Portage and Main in honour of woman found dead in Winnipeg landfill

April 7, 2023

Supporters come together to call for change after death of Linda Beardy, 33, of Lake St. Martin First Nation

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Hundreds crowd into a prominent city intersection for a rally to honour the death of a woman.
Hundreds fill the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection on Friday at a rally in honour of Linda Beardy.(Travis Golby/CBC)

CBC News: Hundreds formed a ring around drummers and singers in the middle of Portage Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg Friday evening to honour Linda Beardy after the mother of four was found dead in a city landfill earlier this week.

Demonstrators closed down the intersection at 5 p.m. while some chanted “we are not trash,” “search the landfill” and “shut Brady down.” Police diverted traffic away from the intersection. “It’s important for me to be here today because time and time again Indigenous women, people, are ending up in our landfill,” Jessica Courchene said at the rally. “It’s not a place for our Indigenous people, it’s showing that people think that we’re disposable, that we’re garbage, that we’re not worth any dignity.”

The rally eventually made its way to Winnipeg police headquarters.

The revelation of another Indigenous woman found dead in Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill renewed calls for a complete search of the site for missing and murdered people.

A woman in a black t-shirt sits on a rainbow-coloured blanket draped over a brown couch.
Linda Mary Beardy, 33, was found dead in Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill on Monday, Winnipeg police announced on Tuesday. (Submitted by Melissa Roulette)

The remains of Rebecca Contois — one of four women police believe was killed by Jeremy Skibicki — were found in that landfill in June. Remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are believed to be north of the city at the privately-run Prairie Green Landfill. The location of the remains of a fourth woman police believe was killed by Skibicki is not known. She remains unidentified, and community members have given her the name Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

On Tuesday, police said 33-year-old Beardy was found dead in the Brady landfill hours after investigators believe her body was deposited there by a garbage truck Monday. They initially said the death was considered suspicious. Within days of the announcement, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said investigators determined foul play is not suspected in the death of the mother of four from Lake St. Martin First Nation.

A group stands around a prominent intersection at a rally in honour of someone who died.
Hundreds of people attended a rally Friday at Porage Avenue and Main Street in honour of Linda Beardy, 33, who was found dead in the Brady Road landfill on Tuesday. Her death is not considered a homicide, according to Winnipeg police. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Video surveillance showed Beardy climbing into a garbage bin after leaving a retail store on Pembina Highway near the University of Manitoba at about 11 a.m. on Monday, police said.

Several hours later, a commercial dump truck picked up and emptied that bin and deposited its contents at Brady landfill, where landfill staff found Beardy’s body. An autopsy suggested she sustained injuries consistent with what would result from being stuck inside a bin as it was handled by a garbage truck, according to police on Thursday. The death is not considered a homicide.

People at a rally hours after that announcement on Thursday repeated calls to permanently shut down the Brady landfill.  Some of Beardy’s family are also now calling for an independent investigation into her death.

Supporters at the Friday rally called for change, citing disproportionately high rates of violence faced by missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Two people in a prominent city intersection closed down during a rally hold up a sign that reads 'We are the back bone of our tribe, we are not trash.'
Two demonstrators standing in the Portage and Main intersection hold out a sign that reads ‘We are the back bone of our tribe, we are not trash.’ (Bartley Kives/CBC)

As an Indigenous mother herself, Alexis Tachnak said it was important for her to be at the Friday rally. “We are losing far too many of our women…. Nobody is doing anything. We feel disposable, under-appreciated,” said Tachnak.  “Indigenous culture is shunned in many ways and our women are at super high risk and it has to come to a stop.”

Half a dozen people hold hands at a prominent city intersection. One person holds up a sign that reads 'where are they.'
The group walked into the intersection at 5 p.m. chanting ‘search the landfill,’ echoing calls to search Brady Road and Prairie Green landfills for remains of missing or murdered people. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Despite the tragic circumstances that brought people to the prominent intersection, Tachnak was encouraged to see so many people attend. “I feel love with the numbers that are here right now,” said Tachnak. “This is how we mourn.”

There have also been repeated calls to fully search Brady and Prairie Green landfills. A federally-funded feasibility study is underway looking into that possibility right now with respect to Prairie Green. “We do need to recognize that the landfills are a crime scene, and we need to show that respect and go through them as we would any crime scene,” Katherine Rushton said at the Friday rally. 

Signs that read 'justice for Linda Beardy' were posted on the windows of a police headquarters during a rally.
Signs that read ‘Justice for Linda Beardy’ were posted on the windows of Winnipeg Police Service headquarters after the rally made its way there. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Rushton is part of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization’s mobile crisis team that attended the Friday rally to support people mourning Beardy’s death. “It’s very important to be able to say the women’s names who we’ve lost and then it also allows for all the other people to feel that same support and same sort of hope that there’s forward movement and change,” said Rushton.

“These are all our relatives and so by being our best selves and supporting one another in their lived experience will always make for stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger province.”

Hundreds close Winnipeg’s Portage and Main in honour of woman found dead in Winnipeg landfill
Demonstrators closed down the intersection at 5 p.m. Friday while some chanted “we are not trash,” “search the landfill” and “shut Brady down.” Police diverted traffic away from the intersection.

Click on the following link to access the above video:

If you or someone you know needs immediate emotional assistance, call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.


Bryce Hoye, Journalist

Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform Manitoba journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC’s Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC.