Large turnout expected for Thursday memorial walk

Tyler Clarke
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A scene from the June 6 march for Marlene Bird and against violence is seen. Another march will take place on Thursday -- the 10th Annual Honouring our Brothers and Sisters Memorial Walk.

The name Marlene Bird has been making waves in the news during recent weeks, but there are other stories of violence out there that also merit attention.


Those who have been murdered or remain missing will be honoured alongside Bird during the 10th Annual Honouring our Brothers and Sisters Memorial Walk on Thursday morning.

“We’re hoping to bring awareness to our women that it’s dangerous out there, and they have to be cautions of where they go, who they go with,” organizer Shirley Henderson explained.

“It’s affecting people more and more,” she said of violence.

“There’s violence against women every day, and that’s what we’re trying to reduce.”

An Amnesty International Report titled “Stolen Sisters” sparked the annual march 10 years ago, Henderson explained -- a report that contends that not enough is being done to solve or prevent the murder of aboriginal women and girls.

This year’s 10th annual memorial walk, set to begin at Prince Albert City Hall at 9 a.m., is highlighted by a new report by the RCMP (Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women) and continued violence as highlighted by the June 1 violent attack on Marlene Bird in downtown Prince Albert.

“The report tells the facts and how the government wants to kind of support the issues of violence against women, and yet the funding doesn’t come with it to put the programs in place,” Henderson said.

A good example of this is the fact the Prince Albert Grand Council has only one family violence worker for its more than 35,000 residents spread between 12 bands.

Although the recent violent assault of Marlene Bird is an extreme example, Henderson said that smaller instances of violence take place on a regular basis.

“We’re hoping to bring awareness to our women that it’s dangerous out there, and they have to be cautions of where they go, who they go with,” she said.

“There’s violence against women every day, and that’s what we’re trying to reduce.”

Bird’s aunt Lorna Thiessen said that her family will be at Thursday’s march to show their support not only for their family member but for others who have faced or will face violence.

There’s violence against women every day, and that’s what we’re trying to reduce. Shirley Henderson

“This kind of an incident needs support, because there are people in every walk of life -- every socioeconomic (area), in every part of the world, are going through some sort of violence, and if they aren’t going through it now they will, because it’s a part of life,” Thiessen said.

“Everybody experiences violence at certain levels, certain degrees.”

Family and friends of some murdered or missing Saskatchewan people will also be at Thursday’s march, Henderson said.

John Moses Bird was hit and killed by a vehicle on April 3, 2011, in Montreal Lake Cree Nation. Police have yet to find the hit-and-run driver responsible.

Tamara Keepness has been missing for 10 years, having disappeared from her family home in Regina at the age of five.

Jack St. Pierre from Wollaston Lake was last seen on July 17, 2009, when at the age of 30 he was noted walking toward his home community.

Marlene Bird was assaulted on June 1 of this year, with emergency personnel finding her critically injured outside the Margo Fournier Centre at 10:20 a.m. She remains in critical condition at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

As many as 300 people have turned out for previous walks, though with the recent media attention Bird’s case has received organizers are expecting a greater than usual turnout.

The Thursday morning memorial walk will begin at City Hall at 9 a.m, and will head northwest to the provincial courthouse, south to the Margo Fournier Centre, east to Central Avenue, south to the Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench, further south to Kinsmen Park, and then west to the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Gymnasium.

Organizations: Amnesty International, RCMP, Murdered Aboriginal Women Prince Albert Grand Council Margo Fournier Centre University of Alberta Hospital Prince Albert Court

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Montreal Lake, Regina Wollaston Lake Edmonton Central Avenue Kinsmen Park

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Recent comments

  • Sandra
    June 19, 2014 - 11:53

    My heart goes out to Marlene and her family. I pray for her full recovery. I think all governments, police, RCMP should make violence against women a top priority along side of missing and exploited children. This has to STOP now. I hope, someone, somewhere knows something or saw something and has the good sense/conscience to come forward. No one should suffer these crimes. No one. God bless.

  • Concerned Grandmother
    June 19, 2014 - 00:36

    For sure say something. If there is anyone out there who knows anything, suspects anything, or is very leery of people out there, just phone the police. You do not have to give your name.

  • Mick Lessard
    June 18, 2014 - 15:51

    If you see something. Say something. The culture of silence has to stop.

  • Concerned Grandmother
    June 18, 2014 - 00:39

    I hope people realize that there are likely many people responsible for all the missing women in this country. They could be perverts, men who hate women, especially prostitutes, but it could also be gang related. Street people in particular are in contact with many of these people regularly. You cannot blame police or RCMP for not solving all these deaths. It is a miracle if they get some hints.

    • B. Annock
      June 19, 2014 - 10:01

      Prince Albert...the jewel of the of the jails...racist capital of canada. Yes i think that RCMP and police can shoulder some of the blame for unsolved cases of missing and murdered PEOPLE!!! Native people freezing to death...dying in jail cells...getting shot at pawn shops...getting beat nearly to death on the streets of Prince Albert and the Chief of Police says, "its a dangerous area" well then POLICE the the area where marlene bird was beaten to scary for even the police to go? Serve and protect...get out there and police the area...get out of your cruisers and check out the "scary areas".