Protesters at the Brady Road landfill say they will not budge even if Winnipeg police show up in full force to remove them.
Members of Camp Morgan, who have been camped out at the landfill just outside Winnipeg for more than seven months, don’t plan on removing the blockade set up on Thursday to protest the Manitoba government’s decision not to search the Prairie Green landfill for remains of two women believed to be murdered then dumped at the site.
The city issued an order to vacate in accordance with the Emergency Management Bylaw late Friday afternoon, later saying they plan to restore full access to the landfill by Monday at noon.
It said the blockade is a violation of city bylaws and provisions under provincial legislation.
The blockade began Thursday following the Manitoba government’s decision against searching the Prairie Green landfill, where the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are believed to be.
Jeremy Skibicki faces first-degree murder charges in their deaths as well as for the death of Rebecca Contois, whose partial remains were found last year at the Brady Road landfill.
Diane Bousquet, a protester at the site, said she’s not going anywhere.
“RCMP were created to commit these acts of genocide and to take our children and place them in residential schools. The Winnipeg police are a by-product of that exact act,” she said.
Bousquet said the group doesn’t plan on meeting officers with violence, but if things escalate it will go to show how Indigenous women are viewed by police and government.
“You get up in front of cameras daily and say you guys want truth and reconciliation and this is a prime example that you don’t.”
The recent findings of a feasibility study to search Prairie Green Landfill released last month said a search was doable, but that it would not guarantee any remains would be found. It said searchers would have to work through piles of hazardous materials and the overall effort could take up to three years, costing about $184 million.
It also said not searching for the women would cause “considerable distress” to their families, and send the wrong message to the wider Indigenous community, which the report said “do not deserve to be told we are trash.”
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said the province would not support a search there for the women because of health and safety risks.
On Thursday, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs condemned the decision not to search the landfill.
“The AMC firmly believes that the government’s inaction and denial to commit funds send a distressing message across the province and the country that First Nations’ lives do not matter to the provincial government.’
“The refusal to provide funding for the search perpetuates the pain and anguish experienced by the victims’ families. It undermines the efforts toward reconciliation and meaningful partnerships between the government and First Nations.”
It adds that safety concerns were addressed in the feasibility study and were not raised by provincial officials when the study was being drafted.
Stefanson explains decision not to search landfill for remains of victims
Cambria Harris, a protester and daughter of Morgan Harris, said the premier has herself to thank for the blockade and overall tension between all camps.
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“Why are you pointing fingers back and forth when this is a collective process of your own doing through the systemic oppression for years?” she said
Harris said people may be angry about the blockade, but it’s because they don’t understand why it’s been set up.
“Our people have been fighting for this for dozens and dozens of years and it doesn’t end.”
In a video posted to Harris’ social media page, a recording shows an unidentified man shovelling soil onto a red dress mural painted on the cement, telling protesters to “take care of their own women.”
“Yeah? Then why are they dead?” the man answers when the recorder responded to his comment.
The man bypassed security set up at the entrance to the landfill and shovelled a pile of dirt onto the mural before driving away, Harris said.
Winnipeg police refused to comment on the order to evacuate Sunday.
Harris said protesters will remain calm come noon Monday.
“The last thing we need is our people getting arrested and thrown into jail when there’s actual criminals out there stealing our women and picking them up off the streets,” she said.
Bousquet said she won’t stop fighting.
“You wanna see these road closures stop? You wanna see these barricades go down? You want us to stop disturbing your days? Then petition your federal government, petition your provincial government to do what’s right.”
— with files from The Canadian Press
Daughter of slain woman speaks out against Manitoba premier’s decision not to search landfill
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