‘It needs to stop’: Hundreds gather to honour Indigenous women killed by alleged serial killer

Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday night to honour four Indigenous women believed to have been murdered by an alleged serial killer.

“Manitobans should be appalled [by these deaths]. They should be standing up. They should be shouting. This place should’ve been packed tonight,” said MLA Bernadette Smith at Sunday’s vigil.

Rebecca Contois, 24, Marcedes Myran, 26, Morgan Beatrice Harris, 39, and one unidentified woman, who elders named Buffalo Woman, were remembered at a vigil on Sunday night at The Forks.

“We don’t want somebody to be known as unidentified. For us, a life is sacred and we have to honour that,” Smith said.

“When you go into a ceremony and you’re seeking a name, Buffalo Woman is often the name you’re given until they find your name.”

Those attending were also there to honour the other Indigenous women who have been victims of violence, and to draw attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

The group said that more needs to be done to implement the 231 calls to justice that came out of the MMIWG final report.

“I think there needs to be a step for the government to take action and to just listen to what was said, because a lot of families attended that inquiry and there was a lot of money spent on that inquiry, and there are still things happening today with the four women that were murdered,” said Delores Daniels, an MMIWG advocate.

“It needs to stop. I don’t have an answer as to how it’s going to be stopped, but education is key and for people to listen to us as women.”

Smith said Sunday’s vigil was about highlighting the state of emergency when it comes to MMIWG and holding the government to account.

“It’s going to take more than just the levels of government, it’s going to take a change and a shift in society and how we treat one another,” she said.

“The stereotypical images that people are told about Indigenous people make us seen as less than, and people think that they can do what they did to our women. That needs to change.”

Smith added there needs to be more support for Indigenous people dealing with intergenerational trauma, as well as resources to help people get out of poverty and homelessness.

“Housing is huge, not only here in Winnipeg, but I think about our First Nation communities, there are three, four, five, six families living together,” she said.

“People are coming to Winnipeg and they’re being exploited, targeted. There are not enough things for Indigenous people to feel safe in this city.”

Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki is facing four charges of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of the four women. Skibicki’s lawyer said his client maintains his innocence and intends to plead not guilty.

None of the charges against Skibicki have been proven in court.

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