Marlene Bird fears loss of independence following horrific assault
Bird was found brutally beaten and badly burned in a parking lot in June
Marlene Bird, the homeless woman who was discovered horribly injured in Prince Albert, Sask., on June 1, continues to recover in hospital where she said she is feeling restless and worried about a future with less independence.
"I'm just sitting here doing nothing," Bird told CBC News on Wednesday. "I'm not used to people doing things for me. I'm used to doing things on my own."
Bird, 47, has been through two amputations of her lower limbs and reconstructive surgery on her face. She was found, barely conscious, burned and slashed in the parking lot of a downtown Prince Albert shopping mall six and a half weeks ago.
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She was being treated in the burn unit of an Edmonton hospital before being transferred to Saskatchewan's St. Paul's Hospital on July 9, where she is now recovering from her attack. She has blurred vision in one eye and hopes it will clear up.
Doctors told her they tried to save one of her legs, but the burns were too severe.
"Upset, of course," Bird said about losing her legs. "The doctor tried to save one leg. He told me 'I'll try the best I can do'. I said, 'Please'. I got up and they were both gone."
Wants to talk to investigators again
While Bird was reluctant to discuss the attack, she said that as she grows stronger, she has been able to think more about what happened and is keen to speak to police investigators again. She said when police talked to her on June 21, in Edmonton, she was still a bit groggy.
"That detective came to me too soon," Bird said. "I wasn't in my right mind. He came too soon and I wasn't thinking. 'Cause I really didn't want to think about that attack. I told him, 'I don't know. I don't know.' Later on, I started thinking."
Bird said Wednesday she believes she was attacked by more than one person, although only one suspect has been arrested and charged.
A Prince Albert man, 29-year-old Leslie Ivan Roderick Black, was charged on June 28 with attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault. He has made a number of court appearances and remains in custody.
Bird specifically asked the court, through the Crown prosecutor, to lift a standard publication ban that would have shielded her identity. In a letter submitted to the court, Bird said she did not want to be seen as a faceless crime statistic.
Moved by support
When her spirits drop, Bird said she gets a boost from reading the cards and letters that have come in from across the country. She said she is also very appreciative of donations made for her recovery and to help her family meet expenses while visiting her in hospital.
"That surprised me," she said. "It made me feel glad and supported that people are thinking about me."
Several hundred people have attended two marches in Prince Albert to broaden awareness of Bird's situation. A trust account has been set up through the Royal Bank and YWCAs across Canada are also accepting donations on Bird's behalf.
"I just wanted to thank everybody for giving me the cards and supporting me, and [for] the walks," she said. "Because I used to see people like this too, and I would want to help too, 'cause it doesn't feel good to be disabled."
I picked the wrong friends.- Marlene Bird
Bird has also been reflecting on her circumstances and how she came to be living a transient life. She has a troubled history, including years in a residential school as a child, an abusive relationship as adult and struggles with alcohol addiction.
"I felt kind of lonely on the streets," Bird said. "My life, I never thought I'd be like that.
"I had friends that wanted to help me, and to go stay with them," she added. "I had places to go. Actually, maybe I had the wrong friends. I picked the wrong friends."
Bird said she is anxious about her future and is hoping that, once she has completed some physiotherapy, she will be able to get around more in a wheelchair.
When asked what she is most looking forward to, Bird said "to go outside, and to be on my own."
With files from CBC's Bonnie Allen