Alleged serial killings called hate crime
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This article was published 05/12/2022 (186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — The executive director of the oldest and largest Indigenous women’s agency in the country says the recent case of an alleged serial killer in Winnipeg reveals the racism and misogyny that lurk throughout Canadian society.
Cora McGuire-Cyrette, executive director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, told the Winnipeg Free Press Saturday that the disturbing allegations against Jeremy Skibicki, 35, show that the system is failing Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“There are so many missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country that we don’t even know what the true number is. There are so many unresolved cases where we don’t have accountability. Indigenous women have a right to be safe,” McGuire-Cyrette said.
“What we’re seeing in Winnipeg is another example of racism and hate towards Indigenous women. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. This is systematic failure at the local and national levels. It is unacceptable.”
Skibicki has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Morgan Harris, 39, Rebecca Contois, 24, Marcedes Myran, 26, and an unidentified woman believed to be in her mid-20s.
The allegations against him have not been proven in court, and his lawyer has indicated Skibicki intends to plead not guilty.
Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said investigators were not certain of Skibicki’s alleged motive, but McGuire-Cyrette said that a review of the accused killer’s social media accounts, as well as the fact that all the known victims are Indigenous, suggests it was hate-related.
A Free Press review of one of Skibicki’s social media accounts showed that he’d posted far-right and anti-Semitic content.
“When you’re looking at his Facebook and his social media imprint, it shows very violent content, misogynistic content, as well as white supremacist material. All four of his currently known victims are Indigenous women,” McGuire-Cyrette said.
“We urge the police to look further into other potential victims, and we feel as his this is a case that should be designated as a hate crime.”
This week, the Winnipeg Police Service said it believes three of the bodies that have yet to be found are located in the same landfill where an earlier victim was discovered. However, Smyth said the force lacked the resources to do a search.
McGuire-Cyrette said the decision to leave those bodies in a landfill is beyond enraging.
“The level of disrespect, the lack of accountability within the police system, when it comes to Indigenous women, normalizes this violence against us. When people talk about systemic racism, the underpinning of that is violence against Indigenous women,” she said.
“How utterly disrespectful to those women, the families, and the community, to state that publicly. Everyone should be outraged at this. The WPS needs to be held accountable and do their jobs, which is investigate and find remains.”
McGuire-Cyrette said it is time for Canada to have a serious, transparent conversation about the levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls, adding that society needs to devote more funding and resources towards prevention.
“We stand in unity with the families in Winnipeg who are grieving the loss of their loved ones, and those who continue to search for their missing loved ones and who are still waiting for accountability,” McGuire-Cyrette said.
» Winnipeg Free Press