UPDATES : Standing in solidarity with Marlene Bird

Tyler Clarke
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More than a week after her violent assault in downtown Prince Albert, Marlene Darlene Bird, 47, remains in hospital.


“She’s not talking, but … the surgeon said that she is conscious that we’re in the room,” her aunt Lorna Thiessen said on Tuesday.

Click HERE for a June 12 update to this story, including more information about Marlene Bird's life. 

Bird is in recovery at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton where she’s undergone numerous surgeries as a result of a June 1 assault.

“It wasn’t just a little beating,” Thiessen clarified. “Her life was at stake.”

Emergency personnel found Bird at about 10:20 a.m. on June 1 outside of the Margo Fournier Centre.

While Bird recovers in Edmonton with a small group of family at her bedside, another group of supporters is growing in Prince Albert, spurred in part by the Prince Albert YWCA.

“Marlene Bird is a mother, a daughter, a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation and a part of our YWCA Prince Albert family,” Prince Albert YWCA executive director Donna Brooks said, noting that staff know her well and that she’s “easy to get along with -- basically harmless.”

She needs to know that she is supported, Brooks said, noting that it’s been appalling to the limited reach of Bird’s story beyond local media.

“If this attack would have happened to a middle class woman in a suburban Toronto neighbourhood, I guarantee you it would have been on the national news -- I guarantee you that,” she said.

“But, because it happened in Prince Albert, it happened to an aboriginal woman who is a part of the homeless community -- because of all those factors I don’t think it received the media attention it should.”

YWCA staff is collecting letters of support and financial donations for Bird and her family, which they will mail out to Edmonton every week during her recovery.

“It’s very important to show her that she matters -- that what has happened to her has saddened a lot of people in our community and that she is important and there are a lot of people who care about her,” Brooks said.

The local YWCA executive director also helped bring Bird’s story to the World YWCA, which issued their own words of support.

“The YWCA movement, in 125 countries and 22,000 communities around this world, stands in solidarity with Marlene Bird and joins her family’s call for justice,” World YWCA general secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said in a release.

The Edmonton YWCA has also stepped up to the plate by helping Bird’s family during their stay in the Alberta city.

When it comes to the attack itself, Thiessen maintains that she’s confident someone out there knows who attacked her niece.

“P.A.’s a small community, everyone knows everybody on the street level,” she said.

It’s very important to show her that she matters -- that what has happened to her has saddened a lot of people in our community and that she is important and there are a lot of people who care about her. Donna Brooks

“People know who it is but they’re not wanting to tell because they’re scared, and that’s how it works on the street.

“One of the things they should know is people can call (Crime Stoppers) … and their name is not going to be given out, you’re not going to be traced in any way or form, and they need to know that.”

In addition to urging people to help local police find the perpetrator(s), Brooks issues a word of caution to the public.

“Go out in pairs or don’t go to areas where there’s nobody else around, because we don’t know the details,” she said. “It’s really important that people watch out for their own safety.”

The Prince Albert YWCA is also reiterating their stance on violence -- that “Violence in any form, it’s not acceptable.”

“We need to put an end to it in our society, and I know it’s kind of an elusive thing, but everyone can do a little piece,” Brooks said.

Attend events such as last week’s march against violence and in support of Marlene Bird, she encouraged. Lobby politicians to increase penalties for those who perpetuate violence. Donate to local shelters.

One means of support with an immediate effect would be sending a letter of encouragement to Bird while she recovers in Edmonton.

Currently, Thiessen said that Bird’s group of bedside supporters are limiting what Bird hears out of fear of overwhelming her.

“We’re just letting her know that she’s in an Edmonton hospital and she’s going to be fine and her family’s with her -- that’s all we’re allowed to tell her,” she explained.

However, as she becomes able to take on more information it would be nice if it were full of positivity and support, Brooks said.

Those interested in sending regards to Marlene Darlene Bird during her recovery are encouraged to drop letters off at either the YWCA Our House Shelter at 94 15th St. E. or the Central Avenue location at 1894 Central Ave.

UPDATE: The Prince Albert YWCA has already mailed its first shipment of letters to Marlene Bird and plans on doing so every week that she remains in hospital.

Financial donations will go toward Bird’s support team who are remaining at her bedside in Edmonton.

On June 6, more than 100 supporters showed up for a march through downtown Prince Albert in Bird’s honour and against violence.

The march culminated in a prayer where Bird was found a few days previous.

Tips can be made anonymously by phoning Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

Click HERE for a video of Friday’s march.

Organizations: YWCA, University of Alberta Hospital, Margo Fournier Centre Crime Stoppers Edmonton hospital

Geographic location: Edmonton, Prince Albert, Montreal Lake Toronto Alberta Central Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Bob Ludwig
    June 17, 2014 - 09:26

    From Montreal, Marlene your story has been heard and our thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with you; in your time of such dire need. Your peace and comfort will be foremost in our thoughts as you go through this most difficult time. God bless you and grant you the strength to carry on. All our love to you

  • tray tray
    June 12, 2014 - 12:09

    Likely it probably is one of her associates, who could also be an Aboriginal person (I am First Nation also, so this is not a racist assumption). We have more than a few beatings here in Winnipeg's main street area where there are many homeless, and it is more often than not Aboriginal on Aboriginal violence. Sad but true.

    • Me
      June 13, 2014 - 16:12

      Statistically, I think it's more likely that the perpetrator is a white male...

  • Concerned Grandmother
    June 11, 2014 - 18:24

    I hope as she recovers that she may remember something that will give police a clue who did this to her. Then I hope they throw the book at him and lock him up for a lot of years. Rumors are that a machete was used.

  • CecileBerniceCorrigal
    June 11, 2014 - 16:20

    so saddened that this type of beating on an aboriginal human being took place..It hurts me in the very core of my heart, it shames me that a community like Prince Albert would allow such things to happen, whoever did this to her should be ashamed, should be jailed, and should never be allowed out on the streets again, sending prayers to the family and also my support to the family may justice be done, and away with violence once and for all, and to think that I use to live in Prince Albert, will be so scary now for me.

  • diane bell
    June 11, 2014 - 06:42

    my thoughts and prayers are with marlene as she recovers. this should not have happened to her, she deserves to be treated with respect and honor. god bless, from an aboriginal woman from port hardy, bc

  • Concerned Grandmother
    June 11, 2014 - 00:51

    I think many people in Prince Albert are appalled and shocked at what happened to her. However I think this city has also got a lot of people who have problems with drugs, alcohol or with gangs. What has to be done to make this a safer community?