(Ottawa, ON) – The Assembly of First Nations stands with the families of Morgan Beatrice Harris and Marcedes Myran, who were honoured with a blanketing ceremony by AFN Women’s Council Vice Chair Doris Anderson and Knowledge Keeper Dr. Gwen Point in a ceremony during the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly.
Before the ceremony, Harris’ daughters Cambria and Kera addressed the Assembly. “I want my mother to be remembered as a strong, resilient woman,” said Cambria. Kera called for the shutdown of Prairie Green Landfill so her mother’s remains can be found and receive a proper burial, or a memorial be created.
AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald told the Assembly that justice for MMIWG2S+ people remains a high priority and acknowledged the strength of Cambria and Kera. Harris’ and Myran’s remains are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill north of Winnipeg. Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois and Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe (Buffalo Woman) were allegedly murdered by a suspected serial killer.
“If these were non-Indigenous women, the search for their bodies would happen without delay,” said National Chief Archibald, echoing the words of Kera Harris in a private meeting Wednesday. “Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois and Buffalo Woman deserve the dignity to be brought home and buried with proper ceremony.”
“I mourn with Cambria and Kera. How many more women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people must be lost before the federal government implements its National Action Plan and the 231 Calls to Justice?” said Chief Connie Big Eagle, AFN Women’s Council Chair.
BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee and AFN Regional Chief Quebec/Labrador Ghislain Picard share the portfolio for Justice and are pushing for policing reforms from coast to coast to coast.
“We’ve seen a lot of talk but too little meaningful action to address not only systemic violence, but the inadequate response by police that devalues First Nations women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people,” said Regional Chief Teegee. Winnipeg Police announced they would not search the Prairie Green Landfill north of Winnipeg for safety reasons.
Regional Chief Picard expressed his sorrow at the recent events in Winnipeg. “I offer my condolences to the families of the women killed in Manitoba. I encourage all Canadians to stand up and address the systemic racism in the institutions that have failed these women. I also call on Winnipeg Police to take any steps necessary to find the remains of these women and bring them home to bring closure to their families,” said Regional Chief Picard.
A Final Report and 231 Calls for Justice were made by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on June 3, 2019. On June 3, 2021, the Government of Canada released its 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (National Action Plan) and the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (Federal Pathway). To date, progress has been slow to implement the Calls to Justice, National Action Plan and Federal Pathway, and First Nations-in-Assembly passed a resolution calling for the federal government to accelerate implementation of the National Action Plan and 231 Calls for Justice.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations people in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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Assembly of First Nations