A Manitoba judge has granted a temporary injunction to end a blockade at a Winnipeg landfill, where dozens of protesters have blocked the main road demanding a search of a different landfill north of the city for the remains of two slain Indigenous women.
“The city needs to operate its facility in the manner that it’s authorized to do so without interruption,” Justice Sheldon Lanchbery said Friday.
The judge said demonstrators can continue to protest at the Brady Road landfill, but they cannot block the road. They can hand out materials and talk with people passing by, he said.
The blockade began last week after Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said the province would not support a search of the other landfill, Prairie Green, pointing to a study that said it could cost up to $184 million and expose workers to toxic chemicals and asbestos.
The city filed an application Tuesday to the Court of King’s Bench seeking the removal of protesters.
Lawyers for the demonstrators argued their clients had a right to protest systemic violence against Indigenous women, while the city’s lawyers told court there were serious safety and environmental concerns if the blockade continued.
Lanchbery said the temporary injunction would come into force Friday evening and be in place until a later hearing.
“This is a serious issue to be tried – free speech and to what extent there may be limits placed on the operation of free speech.”
Jeremy Skibicki has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of four women, including Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, whose remains are believed to be at the privately run Prairie Green landfill.
He has also been charged in the death of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found last year at Brady Road, and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders are calling Buffalo Woman, whose remains have not been found.