Cecile Bittern is struggling to come to terms with the death of her brother, after her family had to take him off life support following a vicious and random attack in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas area Monday.
Marvin William Felix was taken to hospital in critical condition after being assaulted early that morning.
Felix was one of three men attacked within a span of an hour in the area. Police said they found the 54-year-old with traumatic injuries in a parking lot on Main Street near the Bell Hotel around 5 a.m. Monday.
Felix, whose family says he used a wheelchair after having his leg amputated, was taken off life support Thursday night.
“He was a nice person. And sitting in a wheelchair — I don’t know why somebody had to do this to him,” Bittern said in Winnipeg on Friday, where she and her husband, Darcy, had travelled from their home on Berens River First Nation after learning of the assault.
The body of 36-year-old Danielle Dawn Ballantyne was also discovered later Monday morning in an apartment building near where Felix and the other injured men were found.
Two 15-year-old boys have been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Ballantyne and Felix, police said. The teens are also charged with aggravated assault in one of the other Monday morning attacks.
One teen was arrested on Wednesday while a Canada-wide warrant was issued for the second suspect, who police were still looking for as of Friday afternoon.
Felix was originally from Berens River, a community about 275 kilometres north of Winnipeg, but lived in the city for medical reasons, his family said.
Tyna Flett said her family is still in shock about what happened to her uncle. She remembers him as someone who was always cracking jokes and helping people out when he could.
When he lived on Berens River, he would often spend his time helping with ice fishing in the community, she said.
“What happened to him is unbelievable…. There’s lots of questions. Anger. Sadness,” Flett said.
“He was a good person. He worked with a lot of people. He helped a lot of people. He had a lot of friends he did stuff with — fishing, these little jobs. He would be a right-hand man.”
Marva George, another of Felix’s sisters, said doctors told her family that he had been left with damage to his spine, ribs, hips and legs after being beaten on Monday. He also had injuries on his face and a brain injury that ultimately led them to take him off life support.
“The doctor told us that his brain was injured and … he [would] be no longer the same if he recovered,” George said over the phone Friday.
“We didn’t want him to be hooked up on a life support [machine] because that was his will.… If something happened to him, he didn’t want to be hooked up on the machine.”
George said she has fond memories of her brother from when they were growing up on Berens River, and their parents taught them how to survive on the land.
“When he got older, he started fishing with my dad, trapping, hunting,” she said. “Our parents taught us a lot [about] that, how to live — how to live in the bush to support ourselves.”
‘Nobody’s safe, I guess’
Flett, who lives on Berens River but was already in Winnipeg at the time of the attacks, said her uncle regularly made his rounds in the area where he lived, sometimes stopping at homeless shelters like Siloam Mission and the Salvation Army when he needed help.
Now, the deadly assault has left her wondering how safe the city is.
“Winnipeg is getting out of hand. And nobody’s safe, I guess, anymore. Especially with the ones in the wheelchair,” Flett said.
Felix’s brother-in-law, Darcy Bittern, said the loss of such a good friend and relative is being felt widely.
“He had a lot of friends out there that loved him. And he always had his humour to his friends. He always joked around with his friends and family, even with his nieces and nephews,” he said.
“They’d treat him like a big brother or something.”
Felix’s family says once his body is released following an autopsy and investigation, they plan to bring him back home for a funeral on Berens River. It’s where his parents are buried, and he often wished he could return there, they said.
While the family is still reeling from the last few days, Flett said she’s glad her uncle isn’t in pain anymore.
“I’ll just say he’s in a better place now — no more suffering,” she said. “And nobody will hurt him ever again.”
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