WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg police homicide unit is investigating the death of a First Nations woman as suspicious after her body was found in a city landfill.
Police say the remains of Linda Mary Beardy, 33, were found Monday afternoon by staff at the Brady landfill in south Winnipeg and notified police.
"I wish to express our sincerest condolences to Linda's family, friends and the entire community as everyone processes this tragedy," Insp. Shawn Pike said Tuesday.
Police did not release a cause of death and could not provide an exact time frame.
"From the time that these remains were left at or located at the Brady landfill was probably a matter of a couple of hours," he said.
Pike said the case is not believed to be linked to the remains of Rebecca Contois that were found in the same landfill last year, or the killings of three other women.
"We have no information to suggest that there are any other victims, or that this investigation is related to any previous incidents."
Police have said they believe the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are in a different, privately run Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg, but they have not been found.
Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of these three women as well as an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders have named Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.
Operations at the Brady landfill have paused as police investigate Beardy's death.
An Indigenous-led committee headed by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has been preparing a feasibility study to examine whether a search of the Prairie Green landfill is possible. Police initially rejected the idea of a search citing the passage of time, the lack of a precise location within the landfill and the tonnes of material that were later deposited in the area.
The assembly expects the study to be completed in four to six weeks and said in a release it is confident the study will deem a search and recovery is feasible.
Some community and family members have been calling for a search of the Brady landfill as well.
"Our identification units are still out there ... depending on the information and how the investigation is going, there will be conversations that the police service and the city will be having to determine the best course of action," said Pike.
Beardy was a mother and a member of Lake St. Martin First Nation but living in Winnipeg at the time of her death, the Southern Chiefs' Organization said in a statement.
The organization, which represents 34 First Nation in Manitoba, is calling for all levels of government to work toward implementing the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 231 calls for justice to help create a safer society for women, girls, andtwo-spiritpeople.
"In December, we asked that the Brady landfill be classified as an active crime scene. Only a few months later and we are hearing of one of our sacred women being located in this space," said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.
"This is devastating news. It is clear that so muchmore needs to be doneto protect our women."
Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham offered his condolences to friends and family of Beardy, and the larger Indigenous community. He said he was in touch with Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to offer support.
Gillingham said events like this should spark outrage, concern and grief.
"We cannot become numb to these tragedies. Winnipeg certainly is not alone in dealing with situations like this. But we must takeourown actions to ensure the health and safety of our citizens, especially Indigenous women and girls."
Community leaders have been pushing the city to come up with measures at landfills that would prevent the disposal of bodies at the sites.
City staff at the landfill have been vigilant in monitoring this type of activity, said Gillingham. Garbage trucks have also been outfitted with GPS tracking devices to help with police investigations.
Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the province is willing to work with the city.
Nahanni Fontaine, the Manitoba Opposition NDP's spokesperson on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, said there have been previous recommendations and road maps to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. She said current governments have yet to present a co-ordinated response to address the problem.
"There's something so enraging, devastating and surreal about being here again, and talking about the disposal of an Indigenous woman in another garbage fill."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2023.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the remains of Harris and Myran were found last year.