Union of Taxation Employees national president Marc Brière spoke on the steps of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday, and said the union is in favour of a search for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran at the Prairie Green Landfill. Dave Baxter/Local Journalism Initiative/Winnipeg Sun
By: Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Support grew this week for a search of a Manitoba landfill for the remains of two Indigenous women, as both the national Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) announced they are in full support of a search for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.
“We have come here today to strongly condemn the inaction of the city of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg police, the premier and the province of Manitoba, and the federal government,” UTE national president Marc Brière said while speaking on the steps of CMHR in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday.
Brière and other members of UTE, who are in Winnipeg this week for their 2023 annual convention, joined advocates and family members at a rally at CMHR asking for the Prairie Green Landfill to be searched for the remains of Harris and Myran, two women who are believed to have been murdered by an alleged serial killer and dumped in the landfill north of Winnipeg.
Brière told the crowd of several hundred that if it were white women that were believed to be in the landfill, he believes that a search would probably have been given the go-ahead by now.
“Their refusal to search the Prairie Green Landfill is totally unacceptable,” he said. “And I am asking you, if it would be white women or white men, do you think there would be a greater chance they would be searching?
“That is what I believe, and it seems to me that some believe that the lives of Indigenous people and especially Indigenous women are not valued, and this is a shame.
“This is absolutely shameful.”
Brière added he believed it was important for UTE members to come out and show support in Winnipeg on Thursday, because it shows that the support for a search is coming from beyond the Indigenous community and Indigenous advocates.
“We all need to be allies,” Brière said.
Melissa Robinson, a cousin of Morgan Harris, one of the women whose remains are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill, said it was “amazing” to see the support of union members in Winnipeg on Thursday, because she believes that it sends a message that it is not just Indigenous people pushing for a landfill search.
“It’s amazing and it’s about damn time,” Robinson said. “It sends a message, because it shows that people are realizing that we matter too.
“It’s not just Indigenous people, it’s all of society standing up and saying Indigenous people matter, and it’s amazing.”
And while supporters spoke on the steps of CMHR on Thursday, the museum also said this week they are in full support of a search of the Prairie Green Landfill.
In a letter addressed to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) CMHR Chief Executive Officer Isha Khan said the museum supports calls for a search and said not doing a search would be a betrayal of basic human rights.
“Our role at the museum is to encourage people to understand our world through the lens of human rights,” Khan wrote in the letter sent out this week. “In this situation, the human rights implications are clear.
“Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that Indigenous peoples have a right to access the remains of their family and community members.
“It is a universal human value that the remains of the dead should be treated with dignity and their families accorded respect.”
Jeremy Skibicki was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of four women in December, including Harris and Myran, whose remains are both believed to be at the privately-run Prairie Green Landfill north of Winnipeg.
He has also been charged in the death of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found last year at the Brady Road Landfill, and an unidentified woman that Indigenous leaders are calling Buffalo Woman, whose remains have not been found.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson announced on July 6 the province would not offer assistance to search the Prairie Green Landfill, saying she came to the decision because of the results of a feasibility study that said there would be safety risks involved in that type of search, and no guarantee the search would be successful.