"Search the Landfills" Nationwide Day of Action

Actions Across Country Demand Justice and Dignity for Murdered Indigenous Women

Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg

The demand to uphold the dignity of the murdered Indigenous women from Winnipeg has won broad support across the country with the stand "Search the Landfills. Our Women Are Not Trash."

In addition to the event on Parliament Hill on September 18, rallies and marches were organized in 21 cities and towns across the country, many of them at provincial legislatures and city halls to demand governments take action to end the violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited persons. Among the cities where rallies took place were Victoria, Vancouver, Terrace, Prince George, Edmonton, North Battleford, Winnipeg, Timmins, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Charlottetown, and Halifax.

Members of the families of the two murdered Indigenous women, Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, whose bodies are believed to have been dumped in the Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg, attended the rallies in Montreal and Toronto as well as on Parliament Hill.


On the evening of September 18, over a hundred people in Montreal assembled at Place du Canada. The event was hosted by the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal's Iskweu Project, aimed at reducing and ultimately ending the violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Longtime activist and human rights defender Kanehsata'kehró:non Ellen Gabriel was the first to speak, welcoming the families of two Indigenous women from Winnipeg who are believed to be buried in the Prairie Green landfill, "who the government callously disregards."

"We talk about colonialism that is continuing, but also the genocide," she said, noting that the UN Declaration of Human Rights "talks of dignity. We are all equal in dignity and worth. And that's not the message that has been given to us by [...] all levels of government." She said "It talks about 'barbarous acts,' about 'genocide.' The Premier of Manitoba's refusal to respect the dignity of Indigenous women who have been murdered is a barbarous act.

"We are still fighting racism at the highest level of governments [...] of society," she said, adding that "Until Canada stops implementing its genocidal policies ... we're going to have to come together like this again."

Cambria Harris, Morgan Harris' twenty-two year old daughter spoke of finding "strength in numbers," saying "The more that we gather and the more we talk about this, the more our voices will be heard and we're slowly realizing that it is happening." She called on everyone to use their voice for the voiceless. She spoke of a system which "was made quite literally to break us as Indigenous Peoples. It was made to strip us of our land, of our culture, of our language and you're still seeing the effects of colonization today and how it still continues."

"So why aren't all levels of government being held accountable for the lack of actions and change ... as with the decision to not search the landfill?" she asked, adding "Indigenous women are not garbage. We are the matriarchs of our society. We are the backbones of our nation and we always will be. We are the sacred water carriers. We carry that beautiful life within us for 9 months ..."

She ended by saying that "this is not an Indigenous Peoples' problem" but "Canada's problem" and that this is happening "across Turtle Island, everywhere, no matter where you go. It just happens that Winnipeg is the epicentre for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls." In 2022 alone, she said, over 9,000 missing person reports were filed in Winnipeg and there were 53 homicides, a large majority of them Indigenous women.

Melissa Robinson, a member of Morgan Harris' family, said: "When we talk about the government trying to break us down, [...] they're not going to be successful." She said, "We are not going to stop. ... Our women are going to be brought home, not only in Winnipeg, but all of our missing Indigenous women across Turtle Island."

Participants left the event more resolved than ever to seek that broad public support so badly needed for the crimes committed against Indigenous women, girls and the two-spirited and all Indigenous Peoples to truly be made a thing of the past.


On September 21, in Toronto, close to 100 people marched from the Native Canadian Centre to the Ontario legislature at Queen's Park to demand that the Prairie Green Landfill be searched for the remains of Marcedes Myran and Morgan Robinson.

Participants chanted slogans such as "Search the Landfill," "Bring Our Sisters Home" and "No Pride in Genocide." All along the route, many people in cars and on foot expressed support by honking their horns and raising their fists. The participants filled the intersections at College and Spadina, and then at College and University, where songs and the sound of drums filled the air and participants joined in round-dances.

Members of the families of the murdered women participated in the march and rally. At Queen's Park, Jorden Myran, Marcedes Myran's sister, expressed anger and disappointment at the lack of action by all levels of government to search the landfill for her sister and the other victims and bring them home so that they can be properly honoured and buried. Cambria Harris, Morgan Harris' daughter denounced the racism and colonial attitude of the Canadian state which continues to treat the murdered women as garbage and not human beings worthy of respect. She expressed appreciation for the growing support from the people of Toronto and across Canada for the landfill to be searched.

Chief Kyra Wilson of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba also spoke at Queen's Park. She observed that Canadian state governments at all levels are not taking the issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls seriously as evidenced by the callous disregard and foot-dragging in response to the pleas of the murdered women's families to have the landfill searched. She said that the search of the landfill will happen one way or the other and if the Canadian government is not willing to do it, then the Indigenous people will. She also emphasized that other landfills around Canada may also hold the remains of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.

The speakers expressed thanks to everyone who was there and noted that they also received strong support at rallies earlier in the week in Ottawa and Montreal, and that this support and love is decisive in their quest for justice.

St. Catharines


Camp at Brady landfill


The day was cool and grey as hundreds gathered at the Alberta Legislature grounds for the National Day of Action to Search the Landfill but red dresses radiated intensely, and the hill bustled with activity. Red dresses were placed over placard stick frames, hung as if on crosses. Young people lined up to have their faces painted, most choosing the red hand graphic over their mouth. Chubby Cree began to drum.

Kokum Kathy Hamelin gave a prayer in Cree, then in English and as she finished, she thanked the creator for just then letting the sun out. It blazed as she announced the walk would proceed east to the Shaw Conference Centre, where the Safety For Our Cities conference organized by the Edmonton Police Services was taking place. She asked the crowd: sidewalk or roadway? The crowd answered: Roadway!

Organizer Judith Ann Gale announced that she had just been informed of Justin Trudeau's refusal to intervene and order the recovery, claiming the landfill is out of his jurisdiction. The response to the abuse of family invited to Ottawa for more empty talk and rebuff was palpable. She pointed out that the Geneva Conventions require that the dead in both international and non-international conflicts be provided a dignified burial. Under conditions of state-organized violence and genocide, this law applies to murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people, and Canada must uphold its obligations, she said.

Many women from Edmonton have travelled to Winnipeg to spend time at the encampments – Camp Morgan and Camp Marcedes. They spoke of their experience, of what they learned, of the pain and sorrow of those who have lost loved ones, the strength and healing which comes from standing and acting together, and the tremendous resolve to continue until the search is carried out. Speakers emphasized that we are one. This is everyone's concern and everyone has a place and everyone's voice is needed in speaking out and taking action to end the conditions in which genocide of MMIWG2S continues.

Everyone then took to the streets, proceeding to the Convention Centre where a lively rally took place.

Say their names -- Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, Tanya Nepinak and Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe or Buffalo Woman!

Prince George

On September 15, First Nations elders, family members, local organizations and advocates, all came together in a display of collective strength to demand action to end the unjust and completely unacceptable situation faced by so many Indigenous women, girls, men, boys and two-spirited people. Personal stories, drumming, singing, chants and discussion amongst participants reflected the growing community voice in northern BC calling for justice for all MMIWG2S+ and for landfills in Winnipeg to be searched so that the women known to be there are returned to their families and communities.



(Photos: TML, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, C. Peters, D. Driedger, J.O. Smith, M. Troin, Standing Bear Network, M. Graeme, T. Murphy)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 9 - October 2023

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