By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
First Nations chiefs in Manitoba continue to push for a complete search of the Prairie Green landfill in Winnipeg in an effort to turn up the remains of a pair of Indigenous women who are believed to be buried there.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said last week that the government needs to push forward on the search for the bodies of Morgan Harris and Mercedes Myran and that choosing not to so because of the potential price tag would be tantamount to saying Indigenous lives just don’t matter.
“If a search is not carried out it will demonstrate to all nations across Canada that this government condones the despairing act of disposing of First Nation women in landfills,” Merrick said in Winnipeg Friday.
A feasibility study into such a search indicates it would cost roughly $184 million for a complete search of the landfill.
The study indicated there was a possibility that exposure to toxic chemicals and asbestos could be harmful to searchers, but that the notion of not searching the landfill could be even more harmful to the families of Harris and Myran _ and the Long Plain First Nation, of which they were both members.
`Not conducting the search could cause considerable distress to victim family members,’ the report says. `The impact of not conducting a search and humanitarian recovery for remains of Morgan and Marcedes, when it is possible that they are in the Prairie Green Landfill, could have long-lasting repercussions on the families, friends, loved ones and First Nations and Indigenous communities in Manitoba and across Canada.’
The study was commissioned in February by the AMC with funding from the federal government.
The federal government said it would be reviewing the report and making recommendations sometime in the future.
`The government of Canada is reviewing the report and will be discussing how to move forward in light of the recommendations, alongside the families affected, and the AMC,’ the federal government said in a statement. `Our priority is to work with Indigenous partners and all levels of government to review the recommendations as quickly as possible to begin the next steps in an open and transparent manner, while always keeping families, communities and survivors at the heart of our work. We thank the AMC for leading this difficult yet important work to support families, women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people. We recognize that the way this work is undertaken, in collaboration with the families, communities, and partners, is equally as important as the recommendations put forward.’
Marc Lalonde/ Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/IORI:WASE/LJI is a federally funded program./Turtle Island News does not receive LJ funding.