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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says further research on landfill search complete

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says a second feasibility study assessing the scope of a landfill search for the remains of two First Nations women has been completed and is set to be forwarded to the federal government.

The organization says in a statement that the report is being reviewed by the families of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, as well as legal counsel, before it is sent to the department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

The federal government provided $740,000 to further research how to conduct a search safely after an initial feasibility study, also funded by the federal government, found it would be possible but that toxic materials could pose a risk to workers.

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Police have said they believe the remains of Harris and Myran are in the Prairie Green landfill, just outside Winnipeg, but declined to search due to safety concerns.

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Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran and two others — Rebecca Contois, whose partial remains were found in a different landfill last year, and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders are calling Buffalo Woman.

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, of the assembly, says the review prioritizes the safe retrieval of any remains found while honouring the concerns of the families.

“This report marks a crucial step toward searching the landfill and addresses concerns about the Prairie Green landfill search,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

“This report affirms the commitment of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and its member First Nations to justice, accountability and transparency.”

The organization will also be submitting copies of the report to the provincial government and the city of Winnipeg.

Once the report has been reviewed and submitted to various levels of government, the assembly plans to share the planning and recommendations with the public.

Leadership for Long Plain First Nation, where the two women were from, said the study would identify preliminary steps that need to be accomplished to do the search, including identifying personnel training, construction of facilities, equipment procurement, and management of hazardous, toxic and biohazardous waste.

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