Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Held a Joint Press Conference to Highlight the Findings of the Landfill Search Feasibility Study Committee’s Final Report
May 12, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba –The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Cathy Merrick held a press conference today at the Wyndham Hotel alongside Chief Kyra Wilson, Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse, Grand Chief Garrison Settee, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, Cambria Harris, Kristin Witwicki, Melissa Normand, Elle Harris, and Jordan Myran to provide the findings from the Landfill Search Feasibility Study Final Report. The family members have received a comprehensive overview of the findings, and the report has been submitted to the federal government.
Based on the findings of this study, it was determined that the search is feasible and recovering the lost loved ones from Prairie Green Landfill can be done humanely. The search will use a conveyor belt system and highly trained, skilled searchers with forensic backgrounds. It is estimated that a search of this scope could take between 12 and 36 months and cost between $84,000,000 and $184,000,000.
It is imperative to point out that the cost of this search is irrelevant as we are searching for loved ones left in what can only be referred to as unmarked graves. We are searching for human beings whose lives were priceless. The AMC trusts that CIRNAC Minister Marc Miller and the federal government, who now know that technical experts deem it feasible to complete this search, will do the right thing by any means necessary.
“Even though we had to do a feasibility report, we always knew it was feasible to look for our women and girls when they go missing or are murdered, “said Chief Kyra Wilson. “First Nations women must be treated humanely, and the means to address this crisis have been neglected for far too long.”
“It is impossible to put a price on the direct loss of these women’s lives and the pain that their families have endured,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “Missing and murdered First Nations women and girls are mothers, sisters, cousins, granddaughters, aunties, or Kookums. These women’s lives mattered, and it breaks my heart to say: “search for our women in landfills,” we shouldn’t have to be doing this.”
Grand Chief Cathy Merrick presented six recommendations to prevent the further victimization of First Nations MMIWG2S+ and provide tangible accountability measures for all levels of government to take:
- Provide more funding for social support programs for First Nations and Indigenous peoples, particularly First Nations Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Two Spirited (MMIWG2S+), including addiction rehabilitation programs, affordable housing, mental health care, and cultural access.
- Increase funding for Indigenous homeless shelters to help them transition into safer living conditions.
- All waste removal companies in Canada must be required to track the location of garbage trucks with GPS
- All garbage trucks must have rear-facing cameras that allow operators to see what is being thrown into them.
- Monitoring the entrances and exits of landfills with video surveillance.
- The appropriate Ministry must support/fund these changes for smaller municipalities and communities.
The AMC and the Landfill Search Feasibility Study Committee support the families and commit to following through on searching Prairie Green Landfill. The AMC will assist by preparing and submitting any proposal documents to the government of Canada based on the final report and apply for further funding to begin planning the necessary infrastructure to sort through the material and conduct the search.
“I want to remind everyone here we should not have to march through the streets every May 5th, as we have been facing this crisis for decades,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The historical and ongoing violence inflicted on First Nations women and girls in this province results from racism and government and police inaction. It is unimaginable that a situation of such gravity requires such convoluted processes to resolve. We expect support from Minister Miller and the Federal Government.”
Through the Indigenous Accord and the 231 Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry, AMC calls on the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, and the Government of Canada to demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation includes creating a safe and equitable environment for First Nations people in Winnipeg. By implementing these Calls to Action, the government will take meaningful steps toward reconciliation and justice for First Nations citizens, which is essential for our Nation’s healing and transformation.
A national, toll-free, 24/7 crisis call line provides mental health support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people. For assistance, call 1-844-413-6649.
Support is also available through the MMIWG health and cultural support services. These supports include professional counselling focusing on healing; emotional support, such as listening and referrals to additional services; and culturally specific help centred around traditional healing methods and Elder Services.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.