A drag of the Red River got underway Wednesday. Volunteers desperate to find clues about missing and murdered indigenous women spearheaded the effort.

About 30 people also gathered at the Alexander Docks Wednesday afternoon to show their support for searchers hurling handmade hooks into the Red River looking for clues or bodies of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Calvin Alexander said one of the searchers found bones and a bloody rug Tuesday night.

Police are now analyzing the remains but don't know yet if they are human.

A small fire was also lit by a family member of a missing woman, to help the searchers and families feel comforted, she said.

More volunteers with boats arrived at the Alexander Docks to cast their search tools to check the Red River.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak also committed to help and travelled by boat toward the docks.

He said it is up to everyone to do their part to find answers for missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

"There's been a real shift in the consciousness of our people to recognizing that a lot of these issues, we're going to have to address them on our own together,” he said.

The number of volunteers and supporters to "Drag the Red" has swelled into the hundreds.

Winnipeg police, who had been silent about the effort, voiced their support Wednesday.

Const. Jason Michalyshen said police have been sharing their expertise about currents with the group and will have a staffed police boat on the river when volunteers go out to dredge.

"We respect the fact that members of the public are taking it upon themselves," he said. "They want answers. They want resolution. They want it as much as we do. This is a community coming together and we absolutely respect that."

He added that police won't actively search the river, but will ensure the safety of volunteers and take any evidence they find.

- with a report from Sheila North Wilson and files from The Canadian Press