© Herald file photo
Marlene Darlene Bird, 47, is seen in a photo handed out at a June 6 march through downtown Prince Albert in her honour and against violence.
Living with the pain of her residential school system experience, Marlene Darlene Bird, 47, had already gone through a lot prior to her violent assault.
“She suffered in those residential schools, and now she has to go through this?” niece Jamie Bird said on Thursday.
“She suffered a lot in there and she did not deserve this … Nobody deserves this.”
The latest update from University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton lists Marlene in stable condition -- an improvement from “critical,” but she still faces numerous surgeries, including facial reconstruction.
Her second leg was amputated this week -- the latest piece of heartbreaking news to come as a result of her June 1 assault in downtown Prince Albert.
Police are still requesting the public’s assistance in whatever form they’re able to offer, including a request for video surveillance of the downtown area from 12 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Marlene was found critically injured outside of the Margo Fournier Centre shortly after 10 a.m., with emergency personnel arriving at about 10:20 a.m.
Click HERE for an article and video about a June 6 march in Marlene Bird's honour.
Jamie said that while growing up, Marlene never spoke about her residential school experience, but that her alcoholism appeared symptomatic of difficult times.
“I just know she suffered lots,” she summarized. “She suffered too much in the residential school.”
Despite this, Jamie said that her aunt “never acted hateful.”
“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.”
Spending her time between Montreal Lake Cree Nation and Prince Albert, Marlene’s giving nature was always present, Jamie said.
She suffered a lot in there and she did not deserve this … Nobody deserves this. Jamie Bird
About a year ago, Marlene came into a large sum of money as a result of a residential school settlement.
Aside from a trailer, which she ended up having to sell simply “to survive,” Marlene did not benefit from the bulk of her settlement. Instead, she opted to give the money away to help others in need.
A frequent bingo player, people would often wait for her outside of city bingo places to ask her for money -- “And she’d give it to them,” Jamie said.
“She’s just got the biggest heart -- the biggest heart,” her niece summarized. “She always took care of everybody.”
Although Marlene took care of those around her, she wouldn’t allow others to take care of her.
“We all tried to take her in,” Jamie said. “I tried to take her in so many times. I’d feed her, but she’d leave before I woke up because you can’t change a person who doesn’t want to change.”
Marlene’s excuse was that she didn’t want to expose Jamie’s children to alcoholism.
Marlene’s sister and Jamie’s mother, Rose Bird -- another survivor of the residential school system -- was found frozen to death on a porch on the 100 block of 18th Street East in February of 2011.
Since then, Marlene has filled a special role in Jamie’s life -- a role that she prays her aunt will continue to fill.
“Even though she was still on the streets and alcoholic and all that, she still said that she loved me -- every day,” Jamie said. “She (is) like my mom.”
Click HERE for a June 10 story about an ongoing letter-writing campaign for Marlene Bird.