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Provincial, federal governments promise $20M each for search of Prairie Green Landfill

The provincial and federal governments have also committed funding to help the families of the women. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC - image credit)
The provincial and federal governments have also committed funding to help the families of the women. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC - image credit)

The federal and provincial governments have committed $20 million each toward searching the Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of two Indigenous women.

"A lot of money has been spent to convince governments to do the right thing, and today, meeting with the federal government and provincial government, there was a commitment from them to search the landfills," Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

"Today's a very bittersweet day. It's a sense of relief, but yet work needs to be done."

Spokespeople for both governments confirmed the funding Friday afternoon in separate emails, just before the start of the news conference with Merrick and Cambria Harris, the daughter of Morgan Harris. The remains of Harris and Marcedes Myran are believed to be in the landfill.

The provincial government also committed $500,000 to help the families during the trial of the man accused of killing them and two other women, while the federal government promised another $200,000 for the mental well-being of the families, Merrick said.

The families have accused the provincial government of delays and inaction since it promised during last fall's election campaign that there would be a search of the landfill.

Left to right: Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran and Rebecca Contois. Winnipeg police said on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, they have charged Jeremy Skibicki with first-degree murder in the deaths of all three women, as well as a fourth, whom community members have named  Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, because police do not know her identity.

Left to right: Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran and Rebecca Contois. Jeremy Skibicki is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of all three women, as well as a fourth, whom community members have named Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, because police do not know her identity. (Submitted by Cambria Harris, Donna Bartlett and Darryl Contois)

Premier Wab Kinew had said he was committed to getting the landfill searched but, as of earlier this month, could not answer questions about timelines, operation details and funding.

An Indigenous-led committee commissioned two reports on the feasibility of a search, which has been estimated to cost $90 million if completed within a year.

Jeremy Skibicki is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois, whose partial remains were found in a different landfill, and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders have named Buffalo Woman, whose remains have not been found.

Skibicki's jury trial is scheduled for 28 days starting April 29.