Discovery of human remains at Winnipeg landfill reignites decade-long trauma for family of missing woman

The recent discovery of human remains at a landfill in Winnipeg is bringing back trauma for one Indigenous family. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

The recent discovery of human remains at the Brady landfill is bringing back trauma for one Indigenous family that’s been looking for a missing loved one for more than a decade.

Winnipeg police have spent the last few weeks searching the landfill for the remains of 24-year-old Rebecca Contois, who was recently killed.

BACKGROUND: ‘Horrifically, grisly scene’: Remains of woman found near Winnipeg apartment block

Part of Contois’s remains were found in a dumpster on Edison Avenue on May 16. On Wednesday, human remains were found during the search at the Brady Road Resource Management Facility landfill, but they have not been yet identified.

The ordeal has been difficult for another Winnipeg family who suffered loss 11 years ago: the loved ones of Tanya Nepinak.

“It brought back a lot of triggers,” said Susan Caribou, Nepinak’s aunt. “I was depressed. I wasn’t sleeping at night. We had a hard time.

“I want people not to give up on our loved ones.”

WATCH: Vigil held to remember Tanya Jane Nepinak (Sept. 13, 2020)

Nepinak went missing in 2011. She went to get pizza and never came home. She was 31 years old.

“That’s the last time we ever saw her,” said Caribou.

In October 2012, Winnipeg police started searching the Brady landfill for Nepinak, but never found anything.

“I had a lot of hope and with that hope, I was re-traumatized,” said Caribou. “But I also hope the human remains are that of my niece Tanya.”

READ MORE: Police find human remains at Winnipeg landfill as part of Contois homicide investigation

Caribou has dealt with extreme tragedy her whole life. Around a dozen of her family members have been murdered or are still missing.

And with the recent discovery of anomalies at former residential schools across Canada, Caribou says she has been in and out of the hospital because of stress.

“My health is still not the greatest today,” she said. “I just want them (police) to keep digging at the Brady landfill.”

Caribou wants to see the Nepinak investigation opened again.

“I’m still hoping that they will find Tanya and have closure for my family.”

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