John McCrae Secondary School student Madison Lyle-Hayward said that her blossoming body caused her less-developed friends to turn against her.
Lyle-Hayward began to have self-esteem issues, which then developed into depression and an eating disorder. The student directly linked the bullying she suffered to her psychological problems.
“I am still in the process of recovery and have hope,” Lyle-Hayward says. “I wonder what impact the bullying would have had on me if the government had done something sooner about it. They could have protected me at school and showed me that it wasn’t me who was wrong.”
Faye C Estrella now works with Jer’s Vision; however, before she found acceptance with the youth diversity initiative, she says, she was bullied for her unconventional appearance, the music she listened to and the literature she adored.
“For a long time I just took it. Maybe I have a superpower where I collect new nicknames,” she laughs.
After enduring years of bullying, Estrella turned the tables and became the tormentor. A late-night confrontation at a park changed her ways.
“[The boy at the park] started calling me a freak and asking if I was a boy or a girl. That was the moment I had to make a decision,” Estrella says.
“I walked up to him and his friends and I started telling them my story. The craziest thing happened; they listened, they cried when I cried. I asked them to apologize and they did. That was the night I realized there is another way. We can unlearn bully culture, we can stop it, and we can change it. We need the government to take more of a stance.”
The stance of gay and lesbian advocacy group Egale Canada is one of solidarity. Executive director Helen Kennedy says Morin’s motion rightfully encourages the government to take a leadership position on adolescent bullying for the well-being of future Canadian students.
“We fully support MP Morin’s efforts to address and combat all forms of bullying. Egale has always fought to create a Canada that allows every person to achieve their full potential,” Kennedy says.
Morin says that the motion shows great potential and that some Conservative cabinet ministers have expressed their support. The motion will be officially addressed in the House when Parliament resumes in the fall.