Posters urging action, broken window left at Winnipeg police HQ after rally for woman found dead at landfill
WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
Protesters attending a rally honouring an Indigenous woman whose remains were recovered at a landfill taped their protest signs to the windows of the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters, demanding officials investigate the death further and search the city’s dumps for the bodies of other missing women.
The Friday afternoon event in memory of Linda Beardy began with attendees blocking the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street and was originally going to end with a march to City Hall.
The plans changed, however, and police said approximately 150 people showed up at the force’s headquarters where a large window pane was broken near one of the station’s entrances.
Video of the rally posted to social media showed the broken pane, as well as an attendee on a bullhorn pleading with people not to bang on the windows and instead tape their signs to them.
“We’re not here to vandalize anything. We’re here in a peaceful protest,” the man told the crowd.
Police said Thursday that Beardy’s death was not a homicide, saying the 33-year-old mother-of-four was last seen leaving a store and climbing into a garbage bin which was emptied by a truck three hours later. Her body was found later at the city-run Brady Road Landfill, police said.
The medical examiner reported no signs of injuries other than those consistent with being moved around by a truck, although the autopsy is ongoing, including toxicology tests.
Police said in an email Saturday that their Major Crimes Unit is investigating the broken window. An initial damage estimate was not available, police said.
A woman who took the bullhorn later during Friday’s rally downplayed the vandalism.
“That’s just a little bit of an inconvenience for them, but our lives are more than a broken window,” she said.
“They’re killing our women.”
The remains of Rebecca Contois were found in the same landfill in June, and police have also said the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are believed to be in the privately run Prairie Green Landfill north of Winnipeg.
Family left with questions
Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Contois, Harris and Myran — all First Nations women — as well as an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders have named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman. Police have also not located her remains.
An Indigenous-led committee is in the process of putting together a feasibility study to search the Prairie Green site.
Winnipeg police initially rejected the idea of a search at Prairie Green for Harris and Myran, citing the passage of time, the lack of a precise location within the landfill and the tonnes of material that were later deposited in the area.
Beardy’s family said in a statement Thursday that they were saddened and disappointed by the police conclusion that the woman’s death was not being considered a homicide, stating there are many unanswered questions about what happened.
The statement also accused police of being disrespectful and intimidating, and of not being transparent with information. It called on Canada to appoint an independent investigator to “thoroughly investigate the untimely death of our sister under suspicious circumstances.”
If you or someone you know needs immediate emotional assistance, call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.