PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS1130) – Amanda Todd‘s hometown of Port Coquitlam has launched an anti-bullying campaign on what would have been the girl’s 16th birthday.  The ‘Be Someone‘ campaign is inspired by the video Todd released shortly before she took her own life. In the video, she held up a placard, saying she needs somebody.

It’s a community effort; Mayor Greg Moore says the city will even introduce an anti-bullying by-law next month. “The repercussions for that will be a by-law ticket herdthat will start at, I think, $200 and escalates from there.”

However, the ticket can be ripped up if the person completes an anti-bullying program. The by-law is part of a greater package including online resources and a sticker campaign that identifies local businesses as safe havens.  It is designed to be transferable, so other communities that want to get involved can easily do so.

“We have put together a program, and we have put it together as a business in a box, as a blueprint and as a foundation, so we can give it to every other city in Canada,” explains Gary Mauris, president and founder of Dominion Lending, and one of the many business leaders consulted as the Be Someone campaign was developed.  

“So if any city calls us up today, tomorrow, or next week they can launch their own anti-bullying campaign so they can make a difference, so they can raise awareness, and so they have everything ready to come out and show that leadership in their community,” he adds.

Mauris says they have even set up a foundation that can be duplicated in other communities so people can raise money and use it to fund local anti-bullying initiatives.

The campaign announcement was made in the gym at Riverside Secondary in Port Coquitlam. The school has a student-lead anti-bullying campaign called Beyond the Hurt.  “The Red Cross comes in and trains some students, and from there it’s student run,” says Chantal Cardoso, who attends Riverside.

“They (Red Cross) teach stuff like ‘don’t label’ — if you call someone a bully, that’s labelling them, and they’ll feel stuck in that role,” explains Cordoso. Instead, students are taught to use slightly more complex phrases that don’t limit people, like ‘someone who is a bully’ or ‘someone who is a victim.’

Also in attendance at the announcement, Amanda Todd’s mother. “This being Amanda’s birthday, this is the biggest gift that we could… that I as a mother and an educator, and a person that lives in Port Coquitlam, this is the biggest gift that we could ever give her, and give our community,” says Carol Todd.

Click here for more information on the Be Someone campaign.

On Sunday, December 9, Port Coquitlam will host the first-ever Snowflake Walk to raise money and awareness for the new anti-bullying initiative. The intention is to make it an annual event and, like with the campaign, invite other communities to host their own walks. The walk gets its name from a nickname Carol Todd had for her daughter.

The walk will begin at the Port Coquitlam Recreation Centre on Wilson Avenue. Registration will being at 11:00 a.m
.

Anti-bullying laws often unused in other provinces

Both Regina and Edmonton have anti-bullying by-laws in place Spokesperson for Regina Police, Elizabeth Popowich says it’s not used very often.

“Very few tickets have been issued since the municipal by-law was put into place a number of years ago,” says Popowich.

She says if officers find elements of a criminal code charge, they proceed that way instead of using the by-law.

“It was developed with an intent to use a non-criminal intervention, but the non-criminal interventions we use are more often mediation or some sort of a pre-charge diversion.”

She says if they do choose to go the non-criminal route, it’s usually with people under the age of 18.

Regina’s by-law was put into place in 2006, Edmonton in 2003.