Current Problems

Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation

Rallies calling for landfill search to be held across Canada on Monday

September 18, 2023

Families, supporters hope to put pressure on provincial, federal governments to search for women

Cambria Harris, daughter of Morgan Harris, has been calling for a search of the  Brady Road Landfill where it's believed there are remains of other indigenous women and girls.
Cambria Harris, daughter of Morgan Harris, has been calling for a search of Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill and the Prairie Green landfill north of the city for the remains of Indigenous women and girls. (Travis Golby/CBC)

CBC Indigenous: The families of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran hope their calls to search a landfill for the remains of their loved ones will be heard across the country.

People in at least 17 cities, including Ottawa, will rally on Monday as part of a day of action organized by Harris’s and Myran’s families.

“People are not trash,” said Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson, who will hold a news conference in Ottawa on Monday with the families and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “We need to make sure that we’re continuing that momentum and people know the importance of everyone coming together to make sure that we can bring these women home,” she said.

Families of Sisters in Spirit, Assembly of Seven Generations and representatives from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak will also be at the 10 a.m. news conference at the Westin Ottawa hotel, Wilson said. A rally at Parliament Hill will follow.

With other people standing around her, a woman holds up a sign that reads: Search the landfill.
Family and supporters gathered to protest governments’ lack of action in funding a search of Winnipeg’s landfills for missing women, at Portage and Main in Winnipeg on Aug. 3.(Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

The events are happening the day politicians return to the House of Commons after summer break. “We want everyone that is returning to their seats to know that this is not going to go away until we find a solution to searching the landfills,” Wilson told CBC on Sunday.

The rallies will push for an immediate search of the Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg for the remains of Harris and Myran. Police have said their bodies were dumped there after they were killed.

They will also call for a search for an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders have named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, and Tanya Nepinak, who went missing 12 years ago. Police searched for Nepinak’s body at Winnipeg’s Brady Road landfill for six days, but she was never found.

Calls to search the Prairie Green landfill for Harris’s and Myran’s remains have been made across the country since the Manitoba government announced it would not fund a search.  For Wilson, that support has been overwhelming.

A portrait of Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson
Long Plain First Nation Chief Kyra Wilson says while Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives have not supported a landfill search, other parties running in the 2023 provincial election have. (Travis Golby/CBC)

“There are so many people in support of searching a landfill, and that’s not only just Indigenous communities. We have non-Indigenous allies from many different organizations, from many different communities,” she said. “It’s just really beautiful to see everyone come together.”

While the Manitoba government has stood firm on the decision not to fund a search, saying it could put workers’ safety at risk and affect the case against the man accused of killing the two women, Wilson said other parties have supported a search.

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew has said a search of Prairie Green would take place “as soon as possible” under NDP leadership, while the Manitoba Liberals have said if they’re elected, the government would cover half the cost.

Manitoba Green Party Leader Janine Gibson said at a platform announcement Saturday that she supports a search, and it could be done in a cheaper and safer way. She also suggested the feasibility report that estimated the search would take up to three years and cost up to $184 million “has been influenced by institutionalized racism and sexism.”

The federal government has not made a firm commitment on whether it would pay for a search.

A rally at the Manitoba Legislature will also take place at noon Monday.