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‘My mom didn’t get to graduate’: How Morgan Harris’s daughter plans to honour late mother at her grad

'My mom didn't get to graduate': How Morgan Harris's daughter plans to honour late mother at her grad

Elle Harris never thought she’d graduate from high school, but says she’ll be honouring her late mother as she walks across the stage to get her diploma next week.

The 20-year-old’s mother, Morgan Harris, was one of four victims of an admitted serial killer. Last week, closing arguments were heard in Jeremy Skibicki’s murder trial — where his lawyers argued he should be found not criminally responsible for the 2022 killings due to a mental disorder.

The next day, the province revealed more details about the upcoming search of the Winnipeg-area landfill where the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, 26, are believed to be.

Now, Elle Harris is looking to the future, with less than two weeks before her graduation from Argyle Alternative High School in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighbourhood — a school she says helped her through this difficult period of her life.

“I didn’t think I was going to graduate, because I had court going on and so much stuff with my mom, and then plus on top of that I had school,” she said.

“I asked for a red stole with my mom’s picture on it and her name underneath, so she can still be there with me while I graduate.”

Four people overlook colourful fabric laid out on a table.
Harris, second from the left, has been giving back at Argyle before she leaves by teaching other students how to sew ribbon skirts. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Harris says she struggled with anxiety in school before she got to Argyle. She learned about her Indigenous culture there — her mother was a member of Long Plain First Nation — and has been giving back before she leaves, teaching other students how to make ribbon skirts.

“I was ashamed of myself, and I was ashamed to be in my culture, [because] that’s what I was taught growing up,” she said. “I want to take everything that I’ve learned in all my experiences and help other people out, and help them get out of that dark hole I was in.”

Across from Harris’s school is N’Dinawemak, a homeless shelter that her mother used. The surrounding areas serve as constant reminders of what she lost, says Harris.

“It’s hard going down Main Street. It’s hard going past Siloam Mission,” she said.

“It’s really hard because it’s closure I’ll never be able to get. I still think I’m going to see her around the corner.”

Harris says she also took a leadership role at Argyle to educate staff and students about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“We’re still here and … it’s really important for me to get it out there, because we’re not dead, we’re not runaways, we’re not any of what people put out there,” she said.

“We’re human beings, just like everyone else, that want to have the right to grieve properly.”

She says she made it through the trial of her mother’s killer with the support of her teachers, family and friends.

Two women embrace each other and smile to the camera.
Rosetta Troia, left, is a counsellor at Argyle Alternative High School. She says there has been no better feeling than to see Harris persevere in both her personal and academic lives. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Rosetta Troia, a substance abuse counsellor at Argyle, calls Harris one of the school’s strongest, resilient and kindest students.

“She made up her mind to finish high school and start sharing her culture, and she just turned everything around and did just that,” she said.

Troia says there’s no better feeling than to see Harris persevere in both her personal and academic lives.

“It’s often hard to do both when you have a lot going on, and so seeing that is probably the most rewarding.”

Harris says she’ll be wearing a ribbon skirt and a beaded graduation cap, along with the stole with her mother’s picture on it, during her convocation ceremony on June 26.

“Everything I’m going to be doing for that day is going to be for my mom, and for myself as well, because my mom didn’t get to graduate, my father didn’t get to graduate,” she said. “A lot of my family members never got to graduate, so … I’m going to wear that cap for them.”

After she walks across the stage to get her diploma, Harris says she also hopes to help people like her mom by walking Winnipeg’s streets with Morgan’s Warriors — a new patrol group led by Indigenous women and some of her family members, and named for her mother.

“That’s what keeps my soul happy, is walking out there and helping the homeless, and giving them what my mother couldn’t have.”

Support is available for anyone affected by these reports and the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Immediate emotional assistance and crisis support are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national hotline at 1-844-413-6649.

You can also access, through the government of Canada, health support services such as mental health counselling, community-based support and cultural services, and some travel costs to see elders and traditional healers. Family members seeking information about a missing or murdered loved one can access Family Information Liaison Units.

This article is from from cbc.ca (CBC NEWS CANADA)



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