Trial begins for Canadian man suspected of murdering four aboriginal women

Steph Deschamps / May 1, 2024

The trial of a Canadian man accused of killing four Aboriginal women and then dumping their bodies in a landfill began on Monday in Winnipeg (central Canada).
 
The case is seen by many as a symbol of the plight of aboriginal women in a country where they face disproportionate violence that has been called “genocide” by a national public inquiry in 2019. Jeremy Skibicki, 37, was charged in December 2022 with first-degree murder, i.e. premeditation. He is suspected of having specifically targeted vulnerable Aboriginal women living on the streets.
Shaven-headed, with a long goatee and small round glasses, the accused did not speak on Monday, but has already announced that he will plead not guilty. The first day of the trial, scheduled to last six weeks, was mainly devoted to a preliminary hearing. 
 
In the courtroom, which smelled of burnt sage after a “smoke cleansing” performed by aboriginal women, many victims' families were seated in an atmosphere of contemplation.
  
The accused was arrested and charged after the discovery two years ago of human remains in a garbage can near an apartment building in Winnipeg, a city with Canada's largest urban aboriginal population. He is on trial for the murders of Rebecca Contois, 24, Marcedes Myran, 26, Morgan Harris, 39, and an unidentified woman known as Buffalo Woman, the court heard.
 
Only the body of Rebecca Contois has been found, and police believe that two others are still in a landfill site north of the city. According to official figures, Aboriginal women are six times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Aboriginal women in Canada.
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