Support for Marlene Bird pours in from across the country

By Thia James
June 18, 2014 - 12:15pm Updated: June 18, 2014 - 1:32pm
Some of the letters the YWCA will be forwarding to Marlene Bird from well-wishers. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
Some of the letters the YWCA will be forwarding to Marlene Bird from well-wishers. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
Close-up of a card from Edna Bruce. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
Close-up of a card from Edna Bruce. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
A child's letter to Marlene Bird. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
A child's letter to Marlene Bird. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
Messages for Marlene Bird. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.
Messages for Marlene Bird. Photo by Bryn Hadubiak, paNOW Staff.

Support for Marlene Bird, a woman badly injured in a violent assault earlier this month, is pouring in from across the country.

Bird, 47, received burns that led to both her legs being amputated and facial injuries requiring reconstructive surgery. The burns to her lower back require skin grafts.

She is now in stable condition in the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, and is now off life support, but the tubes have not yet been removed.

She has been communicating with family members through nodding and blinking.

For most of the two weeks following the June 1 assault, most of the media attention has been concentrated locally. But late last week, national outlets began to cover the incident.

And according to Donna Brooks, executive director of the Prince Albert YWCA, after that, the YWCA started receiving a number of donations from all across Canada. To date, it has raised more than $8,000.

“A number of donations have come in locally, but more than half of that amount has come in nationally.”

The YWCA is raising funds online through its website

“What we’re doing, whatever we raise, some of it is going to help the family now, and the remainder is going to be set aside to help Marlene,” Brooks said.

A few of the biggest expenses incurred by Bird’s family members are their travel costs. Brooks said that three family members are staying in Edmonton with Bird, but family members also are making trips back to Prince Albert or Saskatoon. She said that gas and food are among those expenses.

But there will be a number of things that Bird will need when she leaves the hospital.

“She’s going to obviously need help with mobility, and I know there are some things available through, you know, through the War Amps and through the Disability Council and through social services. But those are often quite limited. There’s going to be needs over and above that,” Brooks said.

Bird will also need basic necessities – Brooks said she didn’t really have any possessions at the time of the attack.

“She’s going to need clothing, she’s going to need help getting set up in her new life. So, basically anything she’s going to need to be able to do that, that’s what we’re trying to raise the money for.”

Brooks said that donors are mainly private individuals and groups. Groups that support the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and women’s groups have been donating.

Help for Marlene Bird could go beyond the funds raised. If the care she requires doesn’t exceed what the YWCA could provide, they may be able to offer her a place to stay, Brooks said. If it does, she would have to stay at a home that could provide the level of care she would need.

“But what we can offer her … is any financial support with the money we’ve raised towards this, we can offer her advocacy,” she said.

Support for Bird has been shown in the community through walks, and through cards and messages forwarded to the Prince Albert YWCA. But there are also events being held outside of Prince Albert for Bird.

On June 27, in La Ronge, the “A Prayer for Marlene” meeting will be taking place in La Ronge’s downtown park at 12:05 p.m. 

Brooks said she’s received emails about events happening in other cities, including as far away as Thunder Bay, Ont. and Calgary.

“So it’s not just local, this is happening right across the country.”

Police continue to investigate the incident that badly injured Bird. [] Anyone with information about the incident can call the Prince Albert Police Service or Crime Stoppers.

[email protected]

On Twitter: @thiajames

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