‘We’re in a state of emergency’

Mourners gather at The Forks Sunday to support families of four slain women


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Gerry Shingoose burned sage and said their names — Rebecca Contois, Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran and Buffalo Woman.

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Gerry Shingoose burned sage and said their names — Rebecca Contois, Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran and Buffalo Woman.

“We’re doing this over and over and over again,” Shingoose said.

Minutes earlier, she’d listened to Tina Fontaine’s brother give a speech calling for the end of the “ongoing genocide” of Indigenous women.

“Tina Fontaine’s vigil was just like it happened yesterday,” Shingoose said she’d attended.

She sat and listened, among more than 100 others, as person after person stepped up and listed a name of someone missing or murdered.

Shingoose had arrived at Oodena Celebration Circle in The Forks Sunday for the same reason as many — support the families of the four women allegedly killed by Jeremy Skibicki.

Skibicki, 35, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder last week.

Manitobans gathered for a vigil, armed with posters of others’ names, like Heaven Traverse, from Fisher River Cree Nation, and Tammy Nattaway, from Garden Hill First Nation.

“We’re in a state of emergency,” Shingoose said. “I have a daughter, I have a granddaughter, I have a great-granddaughter… I don’t want anything happening to them. I don’t want to be here like this.”

Sharon Pruden attended to show her support for the families. Her niece went missing for three weeks in Winnipeg, but she’s safe now.

“We were lucky,” Pruden said. “I can relate to the family, having to go through something horrific like that.”

“This is the worst possible outcome,” said Mary Girard, who knew Myran during her time as a support worker at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre in the North End.

Myran was charitable, Girard said — she might give her peers sweaters in the winter to keep them warm.

Girard said she’d like to see the Brady Road landfill searched for the women’s remains.

Remains from Contois, a member of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi (Crane River) First Nation were found during a search of the landfill in June.

On May 16, her partial remains were found in a garbage bin on Edison Avenue, east of Henderson Highway.

Skibicki has been in custody since May, when he was arrested and charged for the homicide and dismemberment of Contois, 24.

Detectives believe an unidentified woman — Buffalo Woman — was first to be killed by Skibicki on or around March 15. It’s based on a timeline police put together to track Skibicki’s “actions,” major crimes Insp. Shawn Pike said at a news conference Thursday.

Harris, 39, and Myran, 26, are believed to have been killed separately in early May. Both were Long Plain First Nation members living in Winnipeg.

Skibicki is at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre. His lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, said last week Skibicki will plead not guilty to all charges.

A review of Skibicki’s social media accounts in May revealed posts about far-right politics, including refences to white genocide conspiracy theory and antisemitic content.

“All those beautiful young women – they could’ve been mothers,” Shingoose said, sitting in Oodena Celebration Circle Sunday. “(This) needs to stop.”

– With files from Chris Kitching


Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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