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Influx of supporters join landfill blockade after ‘act of hate’ at MMIWG mural

Protesters blocking the entrance to Brady Road landfill are outraged after a man shovelled soil from the back of his truck onto a mural honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

‘I can’t see the blockade going down’: supporter.

People sweep soil and woodchips off a red dress mural on a road.

Protesters blocking the Brady Road landfill south of Winnipeg say their resolve is even stronger after a man shovelled a truckload of soil and debris onto an MMIWG mural near the blockade Sunday.

The blockade went up last week after the province refused to fund a search of Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg for the remains of two Indigenous women. The city ordered those blocking the roadway to vacate by noon Monday.

“Screw it. Who cares what they have to say? Who cares what they want? I’m not going to take no for an answer anymore,” said Cambria Harris, whose mother’s remains are believed to be at another landfill outside the city.

She said Camp Morgan — which has been at the Brady Road landfill since December— originally erected the blockade to “send a message,” not to entirely block the landfill, which has two entrances.

But after the man’s act on Sunday, she and others issued a call on social media for more “warriors” to join those on site, who said they’re ready to keep rallying for change.

A woman stands on a road with an upside down Canadian flag in the background.

Harris said she wasn’t at the blockade Sunday when the man in a black pickup truck dumped soil on the mural, but she saw the video of it happen, which she posted on social media.

In the video, the man is seen shovelling soil and debris from the back of his truck onto the mural, while telling protesters to “Take care of your own people.” After someone responds, he asks, “Then why are they dead?”

Harris questions how he got past the security on site.

“Why are you so angry to feel like you have to take that extreme of a measure of a hate crime?” she asked.

“You don’t realize that you’re talking to an entire group of people who have been pulverized their entire life through systemic oppression.”

Support for Brady Road landfill blockade grows after man dumps soil on MMIWG mural

Members of Camp Morgan, who have been stationed at the Brady Road landfill for more than seven months, want to bring the women buried in landfills home, and say they don’t plan on leaving after the city ordered them to take down their barricade by Monday at noon.

“I’m outraged. I’m enraged. I’m infuriated,” said supporter Melissa Morrisseau, who said she was at the landfill Sunday to help give a voice to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and their families.

“I’m here till the very end,” she said.

Florance Smith was also there to take a stand with the families.

“They need to dig for our women,” Smith said. “They just think that we belong in the garbage.”

A screen capture of a Facebook post.

Harris said she believes the province’s decision to not support a landfill search shows that the government doesn’t care, and she now feels she’s been disrespected by all three levels of government. She said it shouldn’t have come to measures like the letter sent by the city, telling protesters to shut down the blockade.

“I’ve never ever understood it, why this kind of trauma is our fault,” Harris said.

The mural, a red dress with the words “for our sisters” written on the skirt, was painted on the entrance road to the landfill, Ethan Boyer Way.

A woman stands in front of a mural of a red dress.

Diane Bousquet, one of about 12 people who came out to help paint it over the weekend, said she was devastated when she heard what happened to it Sunday.

“I was really hurt and angry. I just screamed and cried,” she said.

But after they realized the soil the man dumped contained cedar wood chippings, supporters decided to put them to use by sweeping the woodchips in a circle around the mural, she said.

“Cedar’s our protection medicine, and we decided that we were going to include it into our art piece and circle her in protection,” Bousquet said.

“We turned an ugly into a beautiful here. That’s what our people are known for doing.”

A sign that says "search the landfills" hangs in front of a blockade.

For Bousquet, it shows how resilient her community is.

“No matter what you throw on us … we’re always going to create something beautiful,” she said.

Winnipeg police public information officer Const. Claude Chancy said as of Sunday afternoon, no such incident had been reported to them.

Standing behind the families

Joseph Munro, who has been involved with the protest, told CBC on Saturday that the blockade would be taken down before the city’s deadline. On Sunday, after the man’s act and the arrival of more people, those at the blockade said they weren’t sure what would happen on Monday.

“I can’t see the blockade going down,” said Bousquet. “I’m kind of curious to see what tomorrow looks like.”

A woman stands next to a landfill hours of operation sign. Red handprints and a woman in a red dress are painted on top.

The city announced the landfill was closed Friday morning. In the order sent to protesters the same day, Winnipeg’s chief administrative officer wrote, “The blockade is a violation of both city bylaws and provisions under provincial legislation, and is placing the city at risk of violating environmental licence requirements.”

Morrisseau said she’ll follow the families’ lead.

“Whatever the families choose, I’m standing 1,000 per cent behind them,” she said.

With files from Gavin Axelrod

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