Marlene Bird leaves court after Leslie Black was sentenced on Sept. 22, 2017. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

A Montreal Lake Cree woman who was set on fire after being sexually assaulted in 2014 died in a Prince Albert hospital early this morning.

Fifty-year-old Marlene Bird, who was a mother of two, lost both her legs and was blind in one eye after the attack. Today, condolences are pouring in, and the Montreal Lake Cree Nation is in a state of mourning.

The chief, Frank Roberts, is also related to Marlene Bird. He is one of the many members of the reserve who ran errands for her and helped her cope with her disabilities. Roberts says she was a brave woman, and despite her suffering, she did find happiness living with her partner at Timber Bay on the reserve’s outskirts.

“She was happy, despite the condition she was in,” he said. “It was very hard on her, but as the band and the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, we were behind her as much as we could.”

Chief Roberts says she had a difficult life and battled addiction. He says the family and the community are grieving, but also believe she is now at peace.

“We also feel that Marlene has gone to meet the creator and she no longer has to suffer,” he said.

FSIN Vice-Chief Kimberly Jonathan and the Prince Albert Grand Council sent their deepest condolences to the family.

Jonathon describes Bird as a brave woman who was a true symbol of resiliency.

The Prince Albert Grand Council’s Women’s Commission says the loss of Marlene impacts us all and her courage will be admired forever. Funeral arrangements are pending. The family is asking for privacy at this time.

The man who attacked her, Leslie Black, was sentenced in September of this year to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder.