Burned homeless woman on minds of participants in annual march in Prince Albert

The Canadian Press
June 19, 2014 08:08 PM

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - Relatives of a homeless woman who was so badly burned in a vicious attack that she had to have both legs amputated have taken part in an annual walk to protest violence against aboriginal people.

Marlene Bird, 47, of Montreal Lake, Sask., is recovering in an Edmonton hospital from the amputations, skin grafts and reconstructive surgery to her face after being found in downtown Prince Albert on June 1.

She is now breathing on her own without the aid of life support.

Bird's aunt, Lorna Thiessen, took part Thursday in the annual Honouring Our Sisters and Brothers Memorial Walk in Prince Albert.

She said there needs to be more awareness about the violence faced by aboriginal people and to know that what happened to her niece could happen to anybody at any time.

She said she'd also like to see practical measures brought in that could teach people how to be safe.

"Let’s bring in some sort of a cab company or a program where people walking after midnight, they’re leaving somewhere, and you know they’re inebriated, let’s call in somebody," she said. "Let’s call in somebody to help them ... RCMP or city police could pick them up and give them a hand.”

Marchers also renewed their annual call for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Mayor Greg Dionne said the issue is not just a Prince Albert problem; it has become a nation’s problem.

“We’ve talked long enough,” he said. “It’s time to take action.”

Dionne agreed that what happened to Bird could happen to others.

"It could happen in any community and that’s what frightens me," he said. "So we have to all work together to prevent it.”

Police have yet to make an arrest in the case.

The Prince Albert Grand Council has put up a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.


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