Honouring Marlene Bird
On Monday November 27, 2017 Marlene Bird, a cree woman from the Montreal Lake Cree Nation passed away at the age of 50. Indigenous Climate Action would like to acknowledge this woman for her bravery, the legacy of her life and the dire need to shine a light on issues of state violence and work toward bringing an end to all violence against our people.
Marlene’s courage and the message of her life was honoured across the country this week with countless vigils, round dances, and events.
Paul Seesequasis posted a video clip and photos on Twitter from one of the round dances held in Saskatoon on Tuesday night to commemorate her life: https://twitter.com/PaulSeesequasis/status/935662989557907456
Photo Credit: APTN National News
In 2014, Marlene Bird was living in Prince Albert, SK and was victim to a heinous and vicious sexual assault. The attack resulted in her being severely beaten and set on fire by Leslie Black. Marlene narrowly survived and ended up having both her legs amputated and one eye removed. She not only defied odds surviving this horrific violence, Marlene went further to fight a court ordered publication ban on her identity because she wanted the world to know who she was. She did not want to be “faceless, nameless” and “just another statistic.”
Marlene, like so many of our people, was no stranger to violence. She was a survivor of Canada’s genocidal residential school system and years of systemic racism.
What happened to Marlene was extreme and violent, and serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go. The systemic and institutional racism that exists in this country is real. The imposition of reserves, residential schools, experimental hospitals and the germ warfare waged on our people were all an attempt to sever our ties to the land, our culture and erase us from the landscape and history.
We must stand together and hold our heads high, just as Marlene did, and push for the real recognition of our rights, our culture, our identities and way of being we deserve. It’s a new era and we are woke. We will follow Marlene’s lead respectfully asserting our rights as Indigenous peoples.
We hold you up, Marlene Bird, for your strength and inspiration. Your legacy will live in our work here at Indigenous Climate Action. Hiy hiy, mussi cho, chi-miigwech, philámayaye, nitsíniiyi'taki, haw'aa, hai.