Shawn Bernard, 41, is an activist in the aboriginal community and a motivational speaker who talked to youth about escaping his former life as a gang member.
His life changed in April after he gave a ride to people he says were too drunk to drive home.
He was pulling over to the side of the road when he was attacked.
“I was stabbed in the neck from behind and I didn't see it happen, didn't see it coming
and I ended up in the hospital, paralyzed,” he said.
Bernard can no longer feel or move his legs and has limited use of his hands and arms. He uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and needs care around the clock.
“I need help going to the washroom. They have a lift, like a crane lift-sling, and they put me in and out of bed with that. And I have to be showered by the nurses.”
Bernard is still in the hospital. His wife, Shelly Mooswa, and their children are now living with relatives.
Mooswa wept when she talked about their situation.
“I hate it,” she said. “It shouldn't be like this. I'm used to seeing him running around with his kids.”
Birthday party becomes fundraiser
Bernard can’t live with his family without the right kind of wheelchair, an accessible home and care.
That equipment costs money, so family and friends are rallying to help.
Karen Bruno has known Bernard for 15 years. She first met him when he was still in jail. Later, she worked with him at Boyle Street Community Services.
She has decided to turn her upcoming 50th birthday party into a fundraiser.
“I've asked, instead of presents, that people donate. And Shawn will be there and people will be donating at the door, and we're going to have a 50/50 [draw],” she said.
Bernard now lies awake at night wondering if the attack was karmic payback for the people he hurt in his former life as a gang member.
“I don't know if this is some kind of karma catching up to me,” he said. “But I thought all the motivational speaking, and the talking to kids at the schools that I went to, was my way of making up for all of that.”
A suspect in the attack on Bernard is in custody, charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon.