Crown-Indigenous relations minister says federal government is failing in its responsibility to protect indigenous women and girls, despite allocating funds towards the issue.
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mark miller said on Friday that he was shocked to learn that Winnipeg police have charged a man in the alleged murders of four women last spring.
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“It is a legacy of a disastrous history that resonates today,” he said. “No one can stand before you to say with confidence that this will not happen again and I think that is a shame.”
Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rebecca Kontois, 24, Morgan Harris, 39, Mercedes Myran, 26, and an unidentified fourth woman.
The bodies of the three women have not been found.
Kontois, Harris and Myran are Indigenous and police believe the fourth victim is also Indigenous.
Skibicki was initially charged with first-degree murder on May 18 and held in custody after Kontois’ partial remains were found in a garbage can near an apartment building. Police later found the rest of his remains in a Winnipeg landfill.
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Kontois lived in Winnipeg, but was a member of the O-chee-chak-ko-sipi First Nation, also known as Crane River.
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Harris and Myran also lived in Winnipeg and were both members of the Long Plains First Nation.
Police said Harris, Myran and Kontois were murdered in May.
The fourth woman is believed to have been murdered on or around March 15, 2022, he said.
During a vigil on Thursday evening, Cambria Harris said what happened to her mother and three other women amounted to a genocide of Indigenous women.
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The family’s advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that First Nations women were being failed.
“We continue to see the vulnerability of our vulnerable women,” Cora Morgan said in a statement Friday.
“They feel their voice doesn’t matter or their lives don’t matter. Our women deserve more.
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Winnipeg is often referred to as ground zero, or the epicenter of the violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Miller said the federal government will continue to work to address some of the systemic issues that put Indigenous women in vulnerable situations, including reforming the child-welfare system and opening more shelters.
“The federal government has a responsibility. Despite the investments we’ve made – and they are significant – we face a tragedy.
Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, is calling on the federal and provincial governments to work with police to implement the recommendations of a national inquiry aimed at tackling the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls Huh.
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