Families of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran demanding more from Liberal government
Posted September 19, 2023 5:13 pm.
Last Updated September 19, 2023 7:28 pm.
The families of two Indigenous women whose remains are believed to be in a Manitoba landfill are disappointed after a meeting with the Crown Indigenous-Relations minister in Ottawa Monday regarding a possible search.
“We’re not going to trust words, we are going to trust action and we haven’t seen action,” Kirstin Witwicki, the cousin of Morgan Harris, told CityNews.
The remains of Harris and Marcedes Myran are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill, north of Winnipeg. The families have been calling on the Manitoba and federal governments to fund a search.
“It’s very much them versus us. The state versus their wards,” said Witwicki.
The families of the missing women travelled to Ottawa to meet with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree. Witwicki says they were hoping to hear that the federal government would fund the search.
“I think if the pandemic has taught us anything, that if the government finds a problem important enough, they will throw millions of dollars at it very quickly,” said Witwicki. “The problem is that this is just not a big enough problem for them to solve.”
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Melissa Robinson, another cousin of Morgan Harris, says words by the minister and those in all levels of government mean nothing right now.
“We’re angry, we’re tired,” she said. “But you know what, they keep stalling and putting this off, but the ‘Search the Landfill’ is getting (louder).”
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says, if elected, his government would commit to a search of the landfill, while the Manitoba Liberals have promised to fund half the search. Premier Heather Stefanson and the PCs are against funding a search due to health and safety concerns.
A federally funded feasibility report, completed in May, found a search could take up to three years and cost upwards of $184 million.
Niigaan Sinclair, a professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, says nothing can really move forward without the green light from the Manitoba government.
“The province, this is their purview, this is their jurisdiction, and the province frankly has to step up and if they don’t, you get a minister that is benevolent, not sure, and not able to move forward because frankly the federal government, especially in a minority parliament, especially with a government that is facing criticism in Indigenous issues, they are probably not going to come up with $184 million,” said Sinclair.
WATCH: Calls for landfill searches grow louder as Manitoba election looms
Monday was dubbed the Search the Landfill International Day of Action, in an effort to pressure governments. Rallies were held from coast to coast, including in Winnipeg.
Danine Chief drove to Winnipeg from Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in Ontario to show her support.
“As a mother and as a grandmother, I know that if my child was in the landfill, I would want it searched, and I’m sure there are ways it can be done safely,” she said.