Two NDP MPs are calling for an emergency Commons debate and more federal resources to support vulnerable women in response to the deaths of four women allegedly slain by a serial killer in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan and Churchill–Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton spoke during question period on Monday.
“While the government stalls in providing resources, Indigenous women and girls and two-spirit continue to be murdered,” Gazan said.
Gazan wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons on Monday to propose an emergency debate on the topic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.
Winnipeg man Jeremy Skibicki was arrested and charged in connection with the death of 24-year-old First Nations woman Rebecca Contois in May.
On Thursday, Winnipeg police announced Skibicki had been charged with another three counts of first-degree murder after more victims were identified.
Skibicki is now facing four first-degree murder charges related to the deaths of Rebecca Contois, Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris and an unidentified fourth woman, who police believe was an Indigenous woman in her 20s.
Skibicki’s lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, said his client will plead not guilty on all counts.
MPs question police decision not to search for remains
Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth said Friday he believes the remains of the latest three victims may be in the city’s Brady Road landfill but added the police have no plans to search the facility. He said the 50-plus-acre site is too large for police to conduct an effective search with no starting point.
In comments during question period, Gazan criticized the decision by police to not to look for the remains.
In response, Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said he found it “very puzzling” to learn police did not intend to search the landfill. He said he hopes he will soon get clear answers on that decision.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims,” Miller added. “Clearly the federal government needs to play a role in an area where jurisdiction is a poisonous word.”
Miller said he plans to convene a meeting with federal, provincial and Indigenous representatives in January on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Connections to white supremacy
Earlier this year, CBC reviewed posts on a Facebook page linked to Skibicki that was rife with violent sentiments, including antisemitic, misogynistic and white supremacist material.
Ashton raised the connection between the accused and white supremacist material during her remarks in question period.
Ashton called for a “comprehensive” federal response, including funding to support emergency shelters and combat white supremacy.
Skibicki appeared in court on Friday and his case will go directly to trial without a preliminary hearing.
The next court date is set for Jan. 13, 2023.
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