‘Our women are not trash’: Calls to search landfills reopening old wounds for Tanya Nepinak’s family

The calls to search for two missing Indigenous women in two landfills is reopening old wounds for one Winnipeg woman, whose niece has been missing since 2011. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

The debate and protests surrounding the potential search for the remains of two Indigenous women at a landfill in Winnipeg is bringing back painful memories for one woman whose niece went missing more than a decade ago.

In October 2012, Winnipeg police searched the Brady Road landfill for Susan Caribou’s niece Tanya Nepinak. But they never found anything.

Caribou says, at the time, it was a challenge to get police to search.

“I cried so many months when she wasn’t being searched,” said Caribou. “I went to deep depression, took my health right down. But I am still not giving up on my beautiful niece.”

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

Nepinak, who was in her late 20s, went to get pizza and never returned home.

Caribou says police offered to place a monument honouring Nepinak at the landfill. She was insulted by the offer, and believes police gave up searching for her niece a long time ago.

“It’s a dump. It’s where we put our trash and our women are not trash. They don’t belong in a dump.”

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

Caribou’s traumatic wounds were reopened this summer when police searched that same landfill and found the remains of 24-year-old Rebecca Contois.

“It’s been a tough journey all my life for me, but I still don’t ever give up on my family. I’m always there for my family,” said Caribou.

Now family members and the Indigenous community are urging police to search Brady and the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of two other women – alleged murder victims Marcedes Myran and Morgan Harris – believed to have been left there.


Police believe the remains of Myran and Harris ended up in the Prairie Green landfill in the spring. But they decided not to conduct a search, citing logistical challenges and time passed. Police have said the likelihood of finding them was low.

Police allege Harris, Myran, Contois, and a fourth victim known as Buffalo Woman were killed by Jeremy Skibicki, who is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. Skibicki has maintained his innocence.

“I think if we come together all as one and work together, things could possibly get done,” said Caribou.

WATCH: Dozens block Brady Road Landfill entrance to call for search

On Sunday around two dozen people blocked access to the Brady Road landfill, calling for operations at the dump to be paused.

Premier Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham announced the Prairie Green landfill would cease operations in response to the deaths of the four Indigenous women.

“If it was one of the police’s children up there, they would move the whole dump, the Brady Landfill dump, if it was one of their loved ones. I guarantee you that,” said Caribou. “But when it comes to our loves ones, it’s sad. They keep giving up on our loved ones.”

Caribou has dealt with tragedy her whole life. A dozen of her family members have been murdered or are still missing. She says she understands what the families are going through right now and will continue to stand in solidarity with them.

“Prayers are powerful,” she said. “I’ll pray for the family, and I hope they don’t give up and I am not giving up on my loved one either.”

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