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'We are not going to stand down': court grants Winnipeg police authority to enforce landfill blockade injunction

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Winnipeg police liaison officers arrived at the Brady Landfill Friday night to a swarm of protesters who, despite a court order, remained blocking the road.

Liaison officers returned just after 7:30 p.m. with multiple hard copies of a court injunction issued earlier Friday, and handed them out to protestors. A copy of the injunction was burned, bringing a cheer from the growing crowd.

While some protestors did leave the site, others said they planned to stay indefinitely. Protestors continued to gather, sing, and drum at the Brady Road landfill entrance into the Friday evening hours.

This came on the heels of an emotionally-charged hearing in Manitoba's Court of King's Bench, a judge has granted Winnipeg police the authority to enforce a temporary injunction to remove a blockade at the Brady landfill.

According to a court decision made Friday afternoon, police have the authority to enforce the injunction as of 6 p.m. Friday. The injunction allows protesters to remain at the camp they set up, as long as they don't block the road.

Protesters outside the courthouse told reporters they will not leave the blockade.

"We are not going to give up. We are going to keep making noise, and we are not going to stand down," said Jorden Myran, the sister of Marcedes Myran – one of two Indigenous women whose remains are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill outside Winnipeg.

Sacha Paul, the lawyer representing the respondents in the case who have been protesting at the landfill, said the order does allow Winnipeg police to detain and arrest protesters who do not follow the injunction. However, he said the order states anyone arrested will be released on an undertaking.

Protesters at Brady Landfill have been blocking the main road into the facility since July 6, when Manitoba's Premier decided she would not search the Prairie Green Landfill. It is believed the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran are in the landfill.

READ MORE: 'We're not trash' Manitoba Indigenous leaders renew calls for landfill search after study proves feasibility

The City of Winnipeg filed for a court injunction to have the blockade removed as well as an order to allow police to remove anyone who doesn't follow the court order.

In the following days, Justice Sheldon Lanchbery heard arguments from the city and from a lawyer representing the protesters. The whole matter was adjourned Thursday for one day, with Lanchbery calling on both parties to try and find a way to resolve the matter outside court.

However, when court reconvened Friday afternoon, Lanchbery was told the two sides had not come to an out-of-court resolution, though discussions have taken place.

The city told the court that recent rain Thursday night did damage the alternate road into the landfill – one the city has been saying is not fit to handle the heavy traffic.

As Lanchbery made his decision Friday afternoon, a woman interrupted the proceedings, shouting her criticism of the government's decision not to search the landfill for the remains of Indigenous women.

"You will never understand the pain we go through," she said to Lanchbery, who allowed her to speak.

Following the outburst, Lanchbery said he sympathizes with the woman's feelings, but said a search of the landfill is not his decision to make. He warned the woman not to interrupt the court again, but did allow her to stay.

Paul said the outburst illustrates how deeply held the issue of finding missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is to the protesters.

The case now moves to the court's contested list, but this temporary injunction allows the facility to be fully operational. Paul said the injunction will last indefinitely until the case gets a final determination.

"This matter isn't done at law," he said. "I will say in terms of next steps, I need to seek appropriate instructions from my clients to see what needs to be done in light of the fact that they are continuing to raise the issue of searching landfills for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"That's a point that gets lost in the legal technicalities, but it is a point that remains fundamentally important to them."

As for further negotiations with the city, Paul said he remains optimistic.

"I think my clients are thoughtful, reasonable people who are committed to finding people who are lost in the landfill," he said. "They will take steps to do that. I think they have a willingness to continue discussion."

-with files from CTV's Daniel Halmarson

The blockade at Brady Landfill in Winnipeg on July 14, 2023. A judge ruled that Winnipeg police have been granted the authority to remove the blockade as of 6 p.m. on Friday (Image source: Scott Andersson/CTV News Winnipeg)

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