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Cambria Harris's mother, Morgan Harris, is believed to be buried in a Winnipeg-area landfill, along with the remains of two other women.Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

The daughter of a woman whose remains police believe are buried at a Winnipeg-area landfill has filed two human-rights complaints, one against Manitoba’s PC Party over election ads opposing a search of the dumping ground and another against the current NDP government over its inaction to allocate funding.

Cambria Harris, who is a member of Long Plain First Nation, told the Manitoba Human Rights Commission that both of these cases amount to discrimination on the basis of ancestry and sex.

She submitted the complaints on behalf of Morgan Harris, her mother, and Marcedes Myran, along with a third unidentified woman that Indigenous elders have given the spirit name of Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, meaning Buffalo Woman. Police allege all of these women are victims of the same serial killer from Winnipeg.

“We are continuing to see a complete violation of the Human Rights Code in Manitoba, both from the last government and now this one,” Ms. Harris said in an interview on Tuesday.

“This is about holding all our officials accountable for all our families involved. We still don’t have answers. We still don’t know where the bodies of our people, like my mummy, are buried. All we have are politicians who either don’t listen to us at all or have put us in meetings that don’t lead to anything.”

Winnipeg Police Service believe that Morgan Harris, 39, and Ms. Myran, 26, were killed in the spring of 2022 before being disposed of at the Prairie Green landfill, a garbage dump north of the city.

Investigators came to that conclusion in June of that year, but did not share it with the women’s families or the public until December, when they announced murder charges against Jeremy Skibicki.

Mr. Skibicki was also charged in the killing of Buffalo Woman, who has yet to be located, and 24-year-old Rebecca Contois. A band member of Crane River First Nation, Ms. Contois’s partial remains were found in May, 2022, at the separate Brady Road Landfill in the southern outskirts of Winnipeg.

Over the course of 2023, these revelations ignited a national outcry. Communities across the country rallied and protested to support a large-scale search of the landfills.

But as Manitobans went to the polls during last year’s provincial election, the Progressive Conservatives said they were firm on their decision not to support such a search, with former premier Heather Stefanson calling it too dangerous and costly.

This became a campaign point for the PCs. The party paid for billboards, ran radio ads and bought out large spaces in newspapers, as they told voters “the answer on the landfill dig just has to be no.”

“These horrifying remarks have led to a real problem that quickly became visible to any Indigenous person in Manitoba,” Ms. Harris said. “Suddenly, everyone thought they can be racist and dangerous on the streets. We’re still seeing the impacts of these scary ads.”

In her complaint, co-signed by family advocate Robyn Johnston, Ms. Harris pointed to these ads to say the PC Party “systemically discriminates” against Indigenous people and is “indifferent” to the violence they experience.

The Progressive Conservatives have not responded to repeated requests for comment from The Globe and Mail or other news outlets in Manitoba.

“But we’re also concerned about the lack of progress from the current NDP government, too,” Ms. Johnston said, “which is why we filed another complaint against them as well.”

Ms. Harris and Ms. Johnston said provincial officials have not responded to their pleas on the landfill search, despite promising as such last year. “I was hopeful after the elections last year. But we haven’t seen any movement on this in months,” Ms. Harris said.

“We’re taking the time to get things right,” Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew told reporters at a media event in Brandon on Tuesday, when asked about his government’s lack of a timeline on a search.

“These family members never should have been made the subject of political gamesmanship,” he said. “You will see us moving forward on this issue in the first half of this year.”

At a news conference in Winnipeg earlier in the day, Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine defended the government and reiterated its commitment. “That’s not accurate,” she said about Ms. Harris and Ms. Johnston’s complaint that the province has refused to provide funding or resources for the search.

“Nothing has changed on our end. It takes work and it takes co-ordination,” she said.

On Oct. 3, a day after the Manitoba NDP won its majority government, federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree provided $740,000 in funding to the Long Plain First Nation to work on a feasibility study into a search of the Prairie Green landfill. A July study stated a search could take one to three years and cost between $84-million to $184-million.

The newest report, written by affected family members, forensic researchers and elders, is expected to be published this week, Ms. Harris said.

Mr. Skibicki’s trial is scheduled to begin in April. He pleaded not guilty to the four counts of first-degree murder during his pretrial hearings, which began in November.

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