A heartening show of support for Marlene Bird

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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YWCA Prince Albert chief executive officer Donna Brooks and the YWCA Prince Albert Central Avenue location manager Sheri Ukrainetz are seen with the latest batch of letters addressed to Marlene Darlene Bird. 

A mix of positive feeling have been evoked this week as a result of a heartening show of support for Marlene Bird.

“Overwhelmed” isn’t the right word for the way Donna Brooks feels this week, but she said that it’s close.

“Touched” is closer to the point, but isn’t quite strong enough.

“Very touched? Heartened?”

The recent showing of support for Marlene Darlene Bird has evoked an indescribable stir of emotions in the YWCA Prince Albert executive director; all of them positive.

More than two weeks after Bird, 47, was violently assaulted in downtown Prince Albert, her story has finally received the national attention that Brooks feels it has deserved.

On Friday, all three phone lines at YWCA’s Central Avenue location were lit up, with three staff members fielding calls around the clock.

The Globe and Mail, CTV and CBC all wanted to learn more about Bird’s story; the national attention has ushered in another wave of phone calls.  

“When it took off, it took off,” Brooks said with a warm smile.

The War Amps of Canada joined the stream of phone calls over the weekend, keen on helping Bird, who last week had her second leg amputated at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, where she continues to face a series of surgeries.

“This is the kind of attention national attention draws,” Brooks said, noting that although much-welcomed national attention is new, the local community has been showing their support for two-and-a-half weeks.

Bird was beaten so horribly that when emergency personnel found her at about 10:20 a.m. on June 1 she was clinging to life in critical condition.

Sitting in the kitchen of the YWCA’s Our House Shelter on Tuesday, Brooks pulled out a large envelope packed with letters of support and donations for Bird and her family.

The YWCA has already mailed off two parcels packed with letters addressed to Bird, with a third parcel currently being prepared for mail-out.

Locally, people have been visiting the city’s two main YWCA buildings in droves to find out how they can help, Brooks said.

Donations are accepted at both the YWCA’s Our House Shelter at 94 15th St. E., and at the Central Avenue location at 1895 Central Ave, as well as online at www.ywcaprincealbert.ca.

When it took off, it took off. Donna Brooks

By Tuesday, the YWCA had collected about $8,000. Some of the money is going to help cover the expenses related to the Bird family’s stay in Edmonton to be at her bedside. The bulk of the money will go to Marlene Bird herself, to help fund her exit strategy, once she’s released from the hospital.

Letters of support can also be dropped off at these locations, or mailed to the YWCA Our House at 1895 Central Ave., S6V 4W8.

Letters have come in from all walks of life.              

Included in the stack of letters of support Brooks plans on sending to Bird’s family in the next shipment are a few by school children.

One is a letter from La Ronge youngster “Gracie.”

Written on blue construction paper, the letter includes a drawing of two palm trees surrounded by hearts.

“I’m sorry to hear what happened to you and I’m very heartbroken and I bet your family is, too,” the handwritten letter reads.

“We are all praying for you to get better and we all love you, and hope for the best for you! You are beautiful from the inside and out!”

Click HERE for a story about Bird's relationship with Christianity

Click HERE for a Friday, June 13 story with police chief Troy Cooper.

Click HERE for a story about Bird's life and residential school experience.

Click HERE for a story and video about a June 6 walk in Bird's honour and against violence.

Organizations: YWCA, Our House, Globe and Mail CBC University of Alberta Hospital

Geographic location: YWCA Prince Albert, Central Avenue, Edmonton Canada La Ronge

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