More than 100 people gathered in Saskatoon to honour the life of a woman they never knew in person.
People young and old joined hands at a ceremonial round dance for attack survivor Marlene Bird took place just outside of Saskatoon City Hall Tuesday evening.
“There’s so much to say, she has become honestly a beacon of home for our people,” said attendee Kayla Ironstar Murray.
“Never forget Marlene Bird because she became an inspiration to our country, to our stories, to Indigenous people in general.”
Bird, an Indigenous woman, was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and lit on fire in a Prince Albert parking lot in June 2014. Bird lost both her legs and much of her eyesight in the attack.
She died from organ failure at the age of 50 on Monday.
Ironstar Murray noted the round dance was an opportunity to raise awareness about violence against Indigenous peoples.
“We’re all together, we’re collectively. All of us brought our children so that they can be aware of her and just know her story, know her and honour her and respect her,” she said.
Ironstar Murray said she hopes children who came out Tuesday learn they have a voice.
“Her story marks a time in history where we can gather together to end violence because it is a huge dilemma that does face our people. ”
Maria Sutherland also attended the round dance and called the ceremony “beautiful.”
“All these people are gathering and remembering her as someone powerful and not just from addictions, violence, abuse,” Sutherland said. “She was a person and deserves to be remembered as one.”
Bird is survived by her partner Patrick Lavallee and two daughters.