MP Leah Gazan writes UN Expert Mechanism calling for international oversight of Canada’s failure to search landfills

Published by Brent Patterson on

Member of Parliament Leah Gazan has written the United Nations as demands grow for two Winnipeg landfills to be searched for the remains of three murdered Indigenous women. The Winnipeg Police Service and Government of Manitoba have refused to conduct a search citing costs and the hazards of doing so.

Gazan tells APTN News:

I wrote a submission to the Special Rapporteur back in February about the failure of all levels of government in responding to the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. This is a follow-up to the submission I made in February to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to review the need for a study for international oversight of the search of the landfills because of examples of ongoing systemic violence.

Certainly, the women that were victims that we are currently searching for – Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris and Buffalo Woman – were all victims of failures of systems, systemic racism and now this is another example and I think it requires international oversight to make sure families and Indigenous communities are protected from this ongoing systemic racism that persists in Canada.

 Gazan further highlights:

The government passed Bill C-15 to fully adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Winnipeg has signed up as a human rights city. And that means they need to uphold the basic human rights that are articulated in articles in UNDRIP.

That includes Article 7, Articles 21 and 22 that certainly apply in this case, and I would argue as well Article 12. The feds have judiciary obligations here, but also the City and Province have obligations here.

Photo: Morgan Harris (39), Marcedes Myran (26) and Rebecca Contois (24). It is believed that the remains of Morgan and Marcedes, who were murdered in May 2022, are in the Prairie Green landfill. The partial remains of Rebecca were found in the Brady Road landfill in June 2022. The remains of a fourth woman in her mid-20s, known as Buffalo Woman, who was killed in March 2022 are also believed to be in one of the landfills.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Calí Tzay, visited Canada this past March 1-10. He will present his final report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September.

The Human Rights Council will also be reviewing Canada’s human rights record this coming Friday November 10 through its universal periodic review process.

Canada is also currently seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council. In May, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced that Canada will be vying for a seat for the 2028 to 2030 term. In this bid, Canada has articulated six priorities, notably: “Advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples and reconciliation”. The vote for this seat on the Human Rights Council is expected to take place in 2026 at the UN General Assembly.

Earlier this week, PBI-Canada attended a vigil in Ottawa in support of the search of the landfills. You can read more about that in our article: Families of Sisters in Spirit holds gathering on Parliament Hill in support of the call to search the landfills in Winnipeg.

We continue to follow this with concern.

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