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Kinew pledges to search landfill, but says federal role wasn't part of conversation with Trudeau

Manitoba premier-designate Wab Kinew insists he will keep a commitment to search the Prairie Green landfill for the remains of two First Nations women who are suspected to have been victims of an alleged serial killer.

“We need to move ahead with the search and that's something we've committed to in the campaign,” Kinew said in an interview with Vassy Kapelos on CTV’s Power Play.

“It’s about the dignity of these families who are mourning their loved one and let's not forget these families.”

Kinew’s comments come as the federal government pledged $740,000 to further study the feasibility of a search of the landfill.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree said in Ottawa Wednesday that more research is needed to figure out how a search could be done to find the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, believed to be at the landfill just north of Winnipeg.

“I think all governments need to be part of this process,” Anandasangaree told reporters on Parliament Hill.

“From a federal perspective I’ve been very clear that we are in it for the long haul, and we will work with the families, the community impacted as well as the province of Manitoba to get to the right answer on this.”

One feasibility study – also funded by the federal government - has already been conducted; it concluded a search would be possible but toxic materials could pose a risk to workers. The initial study projected the search could take up to three years and cost up to $184 million.

Anandasangaree said the second study could consider methods to store and transport and hazardous waste, along with any potential construction costs associated with the search.

Families of the victims have long asked the federal and provincial governments to immediately fund and conduct the search instead of study the issue further. Kinew’s predecessor Heather Stefanson opposed a search and campaigned on that during the provincial election.

Kinew told Kapelos he hasn’t received any assurances from the federal government on its specific role, nor did the issue come up in his conversation with the prime minister Wednesday. Kinew did say, however, he hopes to work together with Ottawa to move ahead with a search.

“Not only the families but also Indigenous leadership has communicated to the federal government their expectation and their ask that the federal government participate in this and so I look forward to being able to work together with all levels of government…to be able to do right by these families,” Kinew said.

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 Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.



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