A relative of Leana Sutherland, the common-law partner of Henry Kipling, who was killed outside of the Northern Hotel in Winnipeg in February, is raising money to support her family while she recovers from an asthma attack in the intensive care unit of the Health Sciences Centre.

Relatives have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help cover Sutherland's parents' hotel and food bills as they stay with their daughter in hospital.

Sutherland has struggled with anxiety and overwhelming grief since Kipling was killed, according to Lana Sutherland, her younger sister.

Sutherland said Kipling was her sister's best friend, "soulmate" and man she had planned on marrying. The pair had been together for five years before Kipling was attacked in front of the Northern Hotel and later died of a brain injury in hospital.

Lana Sutherland said many people who stayed with her sister and provided her with support after Kipling's death had to go home and resume their normal lives after the funeral.

"She started to get anxiety, and the anxiety triggered her asthma," she said.

Family members took Leana Sutherland to the hospital in Hodgson, Man., several times before she was transported by STARS air ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre on March 14.

Recovering in hospital

Sutherland was put into an induced coma and a ventilator to help her lungs heal. She remains on the ventilator but is now awake. She'll start getting weaned off of the ventilator in the coming days, her sister said.

"Her lungs are just not strong enough. They are getting better day by day. They're just trying to keep her body calm until her lungs get stronger," said Lana Sutherland.

Even while Leana Sutherland was in an induced coma, she wept, which her sister said she continues to do now when she's awake.

"She's doing a lot of crying. I know the doctors can help her with her health, but she's still mourning for her partner," she said.

Sutherland said she appreciates anything the community can do to help the family — especially their parents, who are staying at the hotel on site at the Health Sciences Centre. 

Family and friends from Peguis First Nation have kept a vigil at Leana Sutherland's bedside. They too are still mourning the loss of Kipling, who left behind a legacy of always being kind.

"It hurts to see my sister where we can't help her with that part. But just be there for her so all my family is pretty much by her side as much as we can, even though she's sleeping," said Lana Sutherland.

Community members in Peguis First Nation have been fundraising to help the family as well. On Saturday, Sutherland's father, a sundance chief, held a healing ceremony at the hospital.

"Our family wants to thank everyone for all the visitors, for all the prayers for her and our family, and for the food that people did drop off. Just for thinking of her," Lana Sutherland said.