Manitoba joins Indigenous-led efforts to determine next steps in landfill search

Manitoba’s premier says the province will support the work of Indigenous groups looking into the feasibility of searching a landfill for the remains of two women believed to be the victims of an alleged Winnipeg serial killer.

Heather Stefanson promised provincial funding for the effort Friday, and said a government representative will join the Indigenous-led group looking at options and parameters for a potential search of the Prairie Green landfill.

Read more: Crown tasked with rare case of no body and no identity in alleged Winnipeg serial killer case

The premier didn’t give specifics on how much funding the province will provide, telling reporters those details will be determined as the process unfolds.

“To the families, from my heart, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss,” Stefanson said Friday, following meetings with Indigenous leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the day.

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba premier announces landfill search study in partnership with federal government, First Nations leadership'

Manitoba premier announces landfill search study in partnership with federal government, First Nations leadership

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said the committee looking at options met Thursday and plans to meet again Monday, with the provincial repetitive joining. Winnipeg police have said one of their officers will also be part of the discussions.

“It is not only an Indigenous problem,” Merrick said Friday. “It’s a national issue and we need to step up as politicians to ensure that this does not happen.

“We will continue to search for our women.”

Friday’s announcement follows increasing calls to search the Prairie Green landfill., north of Winnipeg, for the remains of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran.

Police have said the two Indigenous women are believed to be victims of accused serial killer, Jeremy Skibicki.

Click to play video: 'First Nations groups determining next steps in Winnipeg landfill search'

First Nations groups determining next steps in Winnipeg landfill search

Skibicki is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois and a fourth unidentified woman who Indigenous leaders have called Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

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Police believe the women were killed over a two-month period in the spring, although only Contois’ body has been found.

Read more: Alleged serial killer’s estranged wife says she is overwhelmed by survivor’s guilt: ‘Why did I get to survive’

Her partial remains were discovered in a garbage bin in the city and in another landfill in the spring.

Days after officers announced the three new charges against Skibicki, Winnipeg’s police chief publicly stated the force would not be searching the  landfill where the women’s remains were believed to have been dumped, because of the time that had passed as well as the heavy, compacted mud at the site.

His statements were met with anger and calls for his resignation from First Nations leaders and Harris’ family.

Click to play video: 'Feds to fund feasibility study to search landfill for alleged Winnipeg serial killer victims'

Feds to fund feasibility study to search landfill for alleged Winnipeg serial killer victims

Several First Nations groups in the province have since said they would form a committee to put together a search and budget plan that will then be presented to different levels of government.

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Merrick said Friday the final feasibility study will be first presented to the federal government when it’s completed.

Read more: Man arrested in Rebecca Contois murder charged with 3 more homicides: Winnipeg police

On Thursday Marc Miller, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, said the federal government will fund the feasibility study.

Operations at the private landfill have been put on hold while decisions about a potential search are made.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'Forensic expert on logistics of searching Manitoba landfill for murder victims'

Forensic expert on logistics of searching Manitoba landfill for murder victims

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