PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The aunt of a homeless woman who was seriously assaulted and burned in an attack outside a community centre in northern Saskatchewan says her niece has been upgraded to stable condition.
Police got a call about an assault and found a badly injured Marlene Darlene Bird on June 1 outside the centre in downtown Prince Albert.
Bird, who is 47, was first taken to hospital in Prince Albert, then transferred to Saskatoon and then to Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital.
Lorna Thiessen said that Bird was to have her second leg amputated on Thursday because it was “burned to the bone.”
Thiessen said Bird is in a critical burn unit and has extensive burns all over her body and has had several skin grafts.
Police continue to investigate and have asked anyone with video surveillance footage of the area where Bird was found to hand it over to them.
Bird is conscious and Thiessen said she has been speaking, but is heavily sedated most of the time.
“When she comes out, she’s going to need living accommodations, she’s going to need support for probably prosthetics, and probably maybe a scooter, or things in that line.”
She said Bird will also need a place to live and a support system around her.
While Bird recovers in Edmonton with a small group of family at her bedside, another group of supporters is growing in Prince Albert, spurred in part by the Prince Albert YWCA.
Prince Albert YWCA executive director Donna Brooks said it’s appalling that Bird’s story hasn’t received attention outside of 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.”
YWCA staff is collecting letters of support and financial donations for Bird and her family, and has mailed the first batch to her in Edmonton.
“It’s very important to show her that she matters, that what has happened to her has saddened a lot of people in our community and that she is important and there are a lot of people who care about her,” Brooks said.
The Edmonton YWCA has also stepped up by helping Bird’s family during their stay in the Alberta city.
On June 6, more than 100 people marched through downtown Prince Albert in Bird’s honour and against violence. The march culminated in a prayer where Bird was found.
© The Canadian Press, 2014