March in Prince Albert honours Marlene Bird, victim of gruesome attack
Well over 100 people participated in a memorial walk Thursday in Prince Albert, Sask., for Aboriginal women who were victims of violence, with a special emphasis on the case of Marlene Bird -- the homeless woman who was burned and horribly injured in an as-yet unsolved assault June 1.
It was the second time people in the community of about 35,000 took to the streets to show support for Bird, 47, who is in hospital in Edmonton, and her family.
These are people who are humans,- Montreal Lake Cree Nation Chief Edward Henderson
Bird's mother, Jane Toles, took part in a portion of Thursday's march and spoke of what her daughter will need when she gets out of hospital.
Bird has already endured two amputations of parts of her lower limbs and reconstructive surgery related to a severe laceration of her face.
"Put her in a home maybe where she'll be looked after," Toles, who is 77, said. "Because I have to get help myself once in a while at home."
Bird's family said she is no longer listed in critical condition but is heavily sedated and not able to speak.
Police in Prince Albert said Friday that investigators have been reviewing video from security cameras of downtown businesses.
"Right now, they've developed a time-line so we know exactly what she did on the night of the assault," Chief Troy Cooper said Thursday. "And from that time-line, we're able to determine who she was with and who potential witnesses are."
Bird was discovered mid-morning on June 1, by a bottle picker in the parking lot of a shopping centre.
Marchers on Thursday stopped at the location and a drumming circle took place.
For many, it was an emotional moment.
"Very gruelling, very hard," Lorna Thiessen, one of Bird's aunts, said. "Things just triggered me when I saw the spot where she was found, where she was accosted and found, and it's hard, very hard."
Bird, who is from the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, was a regular on the streets of Prince Albert, according to family and friends. Although her personal circumstances were difficult, leaders from her community say that does not make her less deserving of ordinary kindness.
"Our people are walking the streets, and people don't take time to say hello and how they are," Chief Edward Henderson said. "These are people who are humans."
Donna Brooks, from the Prince Albert YWCA, said over $8,000 had been raised to help Bird and her family.
"We've been receiving donations from all across the country through our website," Brooks said. "Right from Newfoundland to Vancouver."
Bird's family also spoke about the difficulties many of them, including Bird, have had following experiences in the Indian Residential Schools system.
"The bondage of alcohol," Rosella Carney, another aunt, called it.
While Bird's condition has improved to stable, a lengthy hospital stay is expected with many more surgeries.
"She is aware she's in a hospital," Thiessen said. "She's not aware yet what has happened to her, but she's cognitive we're in the room. She can open one eye slightly and the nurses said this morning that she can say yes and no and those small little words."
With files from CBC's Bonnie Allen and Ryan Pilon