The sad tale of Marlene Darlene Bird has told two stories about the city of Prince Albert.
First, there is a violent underbelly to the community that manifests itself in some very ugly ways at times.
The senseless and prolonged attack on the 47-year-old woman, who was found critically injured outside the Margo Fournier Centre on June 1, is everything bad about this city and society as a whole.
Some profoundly troubled, violent human beings inflicted a beating bad enough that Bird has now had both legs amputated and faces facial reconstruction.
Numerous surgeries remain in her future.
Her niece Jamie spoke about the character of the woman who was so badly injured.
“She never acted mean,” she said. “I’ve never seen her mean -- Never once be mean to anybody -- That’s why I don’t understand.”
“She’s quiet, loving, sweet. She never, ever, got loud -- She was never loud. She was always quiet and light spoken.”
Bird faced her own struggles with alcohol but by all accounts remained the woman who shared her residential school settlement with others despite being of limited means herself.
The story of her assault once again proved that animals live among us.
But it also proved the opposite.
There has been an outpouring of support for Bird as she faces yet another incredible struggle in a life that has been all too filled with them.
Prince Albert YWCA executive director Donna Brooks launched a letter-writing campaign this week and asked for donations to help with her recovery. As Brooks notes, the awful story has failed to gain much traction beyond Prince Albert.
“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.”
It didn’t take long for the YWCA to send the first shipment of letters to Bird as they flooded in.
A march by more than 100 people also confirmed the community’s support for the victim of this horrendous crime.
In a city where so many people sit behind bars in the numerous Corrections facilities here, the more visible side of Prince Albert is a community of sharing and caring.
It’s a community of volunteers and people quick to open their wallets for a good cause, whether it was putting the lights up at Max Clunie Field or furnishing the Pineview Home.
On the balance, this is an overwhelmingly great place to call home.
But this senseless attack has once again shown us the good will always be mixed with the bad.
Prince Albert Daily Herald