New Delhi: Canada is witnessing public outrage over targeted violence against indigenous women after the arrest of an alleged serial killer as locals see the continued incidents as the country’s failure to protect vulnerable women and girls.
According to a report by the Guardian, Police in Winnipeg city announced on Thursday that accused Jeremy Skibicki, 35, was charged with the murder of Morgan Beatrice Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, of Long Plain First Nation, months after he was accused of killing Rebecca Contois, 24, from O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation.
Skibicki was also charged in the murder of a fourth, unnamed victim who is believed to be Indigenous. The bodies of the three latest alleged victims have not yet been found.
A candlelight vigil was held in Winnipeg outside Skibicki’s residence on Thursday evening as families mourned the loss of mothers, daughters, and a grandmother, The Guardian reported.
“I want her to be remembered as happy-go-lucky. She was silly. She was fun. People loved to be around her,” the report quoted Morgan’s daughter Cambria Harris as saying.
The Manitoba shadow justice minister Nahanni Fontaine took to Twitter and wrote about witnessing “rage, despair, disgust and unspeakable sadness” following the arrest of a “monster” who had stalked the community.
This alleged killer walked amongst us. He was in our city, our neighborhoods, and our places of work. He was not invisible. But our women, girls, and two-spirited are,” she wrote.
When will the protection of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited be taken seriously? Winnipeg now has the distinction of having two separate serial killers of Indigenous women. Are we waiting for a third or fourth to rear their murderous heads?” she added in another tweet.
This comes as political leaders have failed to keep promises to combat decades of violence against Indigenous women.
According to The Guardian, as many as 4,000 Indigenous women and girls are believed to have been killed or gone missing in Canada over the past 30 years.
It cited a 2019 report by the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls as stating that Indigenous women are six times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the matter saying, “We have failed you. We will fail you no longer”.
The 2019 report concluded that “state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies” were a key driving force in the disappearance of Indigenous women.
Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham on Thursday said “condolences are not strong enough”. “Anger and sorrow – that mix is what I’m feeling right now. We have more to do to address safety across this community,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.