Drag the Red searchers get grim lesson on finding, identifying bones
Group of volunteers searches the Red River in Winnipeg for missing, murdered Indigenous women
The rakes and markers are out and the search has begun.
Today's goal: find bones.
Drag the Red's hope is such a find could give closure to a family member with a missing or murdered loved one.
- Drag the Red searchers get forensics crash course in Winnipeg
- Drag the Red hits the river in search of clues in unsolved MMIW cases
It's a potential discovery the group of 25 volunteer searchers from the group, who gathered at Winnipeg's Central Park on Saturday for a crash course in identifying human bones, have to prepare for.
"You're hoping to find something but then you're sort of hoping you don't, because then it means that the person is gone," said Chantel Henderson, 35.
As an Indigenous woman, Henderson herself has worried about being murdered, and she has Indigenous friends and relatives who have gone missing. One of them is Kerry Klyne.
The Indigenous man and friend to Henderson hasn't been seen since November 2010.
Saturday's training session brought memories of Klyne, and of a search for Sindy Ruperthouse — who went missing in Quebec in 2014 — back to Henderson's mind.
"Just the heaviness, you know, all the feelings."
Drag the Red started in 2014 with the goal of helping to solve cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women by searching the river, and the riverbank, for remains or other evidence.
Drag the Red searches the Red River by dropping metal bars with hooks and chains into the river to pull up possible remains.
Emily Holland, an anthropology professor at Brandon University, led Saturday's workshop on bones for the third year in a row.
Holland started the day off with a lecture at the University of Winnipeg and gave searchers a lesson on the basics.
- Drag the Red finds 4 human teeth on Winnipeg riverbank
- Human bones found by construction crew digging in Manotick
"Bone can look like a lot of things and a lot of things can look like bone," Holland said, adding a bone could appear to be a piece of wood or plastic.
She took the group of searchers to Central Park to give volunteers hands-on experience, planting animal bones in the park for searchers to find.
'Tired of feeling injustice'
Standing side-by-side in a straight line, the volunteers made their way forward one step at a time with rakes and markers.
Holland said the skills taught in the workshop will give volunteers the information they need in the event they find bones.
Going forward, she said the volunteers will be able to contact her to get an expert's opinion on whether any bones they find in the Red River, or in the ground, are from an animal or a human.
That was reassuring for Henderson.
"I'm tired of feeling the injustice," she said.