Months after the first calls to search a Manitoba landfill were voiced, a local MP has lodged a written submission to the United Nations.
Leah Gazan, MP for Winnipeg Centre, filed her submission to the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples on July 19, asking for international oversight into what she said was a failure by the provincial and federal governments. This comes after a decision not to search for the remains of two Indigenous women, which led to the blockade and eventual reopening of the Brady Road landfill.
Protesters had camped on the road leading up to the landfill since July 6. A blockade that was initially set up outside the main entrance of the site was taken down by police on July 18. It had been set up after Premier Heather Stefanson stated earlier this month that a search of the Prairie Green landfill would not be conducted, saying it would pose a health risk to workers with no guarantee of success.
It is at that landfill where Winnipeg police believe the bodies of Marcedes Myran and Morgan Harris remain. Jeremy Skibicki has been charged in their deaths, as well as those of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found last year at Brady Road, and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders are calling Buffalo Woman, whose remains have not been found.
“Families should not have to plead in order for their deceased loved ones to be treated with dignity and be brought home to rest,” reads part of the Gazan’s submission. “I am writing to you in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre to lodge a formal complaint about a human rights issue in our city that warrants international scrutiny…. I am requesting international oversight on the failure of governments to search for our stolen sisters, and uphold the human rights of Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.”
Gazan wrote that the provincial and federal governments failed in conducting a search, which was needed as a result of a crime that is described as an “ongoing genocide.” She further added that the genocide against Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people is normalized, as seen with the “continued use” of the Prairie Green landfill.
In speaking to Global News, the MP said that in writing to the special rapporteur she hopes for three things: for the province to reconsider its stance on searching the landfill, for the federal government to support and provide resources for such a search, and for the implementation of all the calls to action from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“I felt it necessary to involve the special rapporteur, make him aware of the ongoing human rights violations and the failure to act by all levels of government to address this critical and dire crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls,” said Gazan.
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Canada, she said, must uphold and adhere to obligations that are both international and domestic. She said the submission was about informing the special rapporteur that such obligations weren’t being met.
“I’m hoping the premier reconsiders her position and that all levels of government quit playing jurisdictional games,” said Gazan. “Do whatever is needed to make sure that these women are, even in their death, treated with dignity and human rights, something that wasn’t afforded to them in life.”
The special rapporteur’s mandate, as listed on their site, is:
- To promote good practice, new laws, government programs, and constructive agreements between Indigenous peoples and states.
- To make recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures to prevent and remedy violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
- To report on the human rights situations of Indigenous peoples around the world.
- To address specific cases of alleged violations of Indigenous people and their rights.
The rapporteur was established in 2001.
‘They are being treated like garbage’: Indigenous leaders call for action over Winnipeg landfill search
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