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We must speak up on violence against Indigenous women

Posted on December 22, 2022 by Vauxhall Advance

The news that three Indigenous women are believed to have been discarded in a landfill near Winnipeg at the hands of a suspected serial killer, hangs in the air as a putrid reminder that Indigenous women in this country continue to face disproportionate violence and brutality, all the while they are continuing to be met with habitual indifference by authorities and institutions in the aftermath of these tragedies.

Last week, Jeremy Skibicki was charged with first-degree murder in relation to the deaths of Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris, and a women who was given the name Buffalo Woman by community members, as her identity is not known to police.

In May, Skibicki was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 24 year old Rebecca Contois, who was an Indigenous woman residing in Winnipeg. Contois’ remains were found near Skibicki’s home and at another landfill. Police have confirmed they believe the remains of Harris’ and Myran’s are at Prairie Green landfill. They are uncertain of the location of Buffalo Woman’s remains, but suspect the landfill as a possible location.

Last week, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth revealed authorities believed the remains of two women allegedly killed by Jeremy Skibicki had been disposed of in a landfill just north of Winnipeg. Smyth made a statement that a search was not, “feasible” at that time. Soon after, public outrage ensued, and rightfully so. The subtext of this situation was interpreted by many as a confirmation of indifference over how these women were brutalized, by the way their remains were literally discarded in a landfill. At a press conference Cambria Harris, Morgan Harris’ daughter posited, “is human life not feasible?” Community members and the victim’s loved ones had to plead to reaffirm their loved ones are not trash.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 calls to action outlines specific calls to action for media and journalists. We have been called in to use our voices and our community reach to, “provide dedicated news coverage and online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.”

We believe we cannot ignore the cultural context of this case, and the many other cases which have all the tellings of violence against a targeted demographic that is Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. We cannot detach this tragedy from the decades of failed public policy and the careless shortcomings of authorities across Canada to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people (MMIWG2S) in Canada.

There is no possible situation in which this kind of inhumanity and indifference should be tolerated: this cannot be their final resting place.

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