Mayor Ernie Daykin will consider an anti-bullying bylaw for Maple Ridge.
Port Coquitlam will pass the first anti-bullying bylaw in B.C., giving the RCMP new powers to dealing with bullying behaviour in that city.
On Tuesday, Daykin attended the event in Port Coquitlam to announce the bylaw and accompanying new program to provide support and resources for both bullies and their victims.
The program, Be Someone, was developed by PoCo business leader Gary Mauris, with the support of PoCo Mayor Greg Moore.
The bylaw will be modeled after similar legislation used in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Moore told community leaders and students at the campaign launch at Riverside secondary.
It will create a monetary fine for bullying behavior, and will provide bullies an opportunity to take an approved course. If they take the course, the ticket will be “ripped up.”
“We’re going to stand up and say bullying won’t be tolerated,” Moore said.
At the event, dozens of students, parents, politicians and community representatives, including Amanda Todd’s mother Carol, wore pink t-shirts with the words “I Am Someone” and held up signs in support.
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old girl victim of bullying, online and at school, who and took her own life, leaving behind a Youtube video that told of her ordeal. It has been viewed more than 20 million times.
She transferred schools to try and escape her tormentors, attending Maple Ridge and Westview secondary schools in Maple Ridge before moving to Port Coquitlam last year.
Daykin said Todd’s death impacted people in Maple Ridge.
“I had folks saying, ‘Ernie, what are you going to do about this?’ My hope is we’ll be the No. 2 community [with an anti-bullying bylaw].”
He said Mauris’ involvement in PoCo was key to the implementation of the program, and he would like to see someone in Maple Ridge steep forward and champion the cause, building off the work done west of the Pitt River Bridge. Daykin is obtaining a copy of the program materials for review.
Moore said the campaign was pulled together in four weeks, with Mauris at the helm, and that the speed at which it was developed showed the passion and commitment of business and community leaders in doing something to stop bullying behavior.
Mauris, president and founder of Dominion Lending Centres, said he was inspired to act by the final card in Todd’s video, in which she stated she was alone and needed someone.
Calling bullying an “insidious problem,” Mauris acknowledged that Todd would have celebrated her 16th birthday the day of the campaign launch.
But he said the campaign — which will include a web portal, a community awareness campaign, education for parents, text messaging for bullied teens in crisis, an anti-bullying bylaw and a Snowflake fundraising walk to raise money for future initiatives — is not just about Todd, but to prevent other teens from committing suicide.
One way for people to show their support is to post an “I am someone” sticker in their business window or public facility. Mauris also said the entire program can be imported to any city that wishes to take a stand against bullying.
– with files from Diane Strandberg