Oct 19, 2012 / 11:32 pm
They lit candles, shared their thoughts and collectively took a quiet stand against the kind of torment which caused a British Columbia teen to end her own life.
Hundreds of people in a number of cities around the world paused to remember bullying victim Amanda Todd on Friday, just over a week after the 15-year-old Port Coquitlam girl committed suicide following years of Internet sexual exploitation and bullying by her peers.
A Facebook page had been set up listing memorials for Todd from communities in the Vancouver area to cities in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Vigils were to be held in at least five American states, as well as Copenhagen and various cities in India.
"I am overwhelmed," said Lucky Gill, a Vancouver-area resident who co-ordinated one of the vigils. Gill launched an organization called Global Girl Power with her niece the same day news broke of Todd's death.
"My vision was to get the word out. Even if one family lights up one candle in the house, kids in that house will see that 'Oh, our parents care,' so they will feel more comfortable with them. Maybe conversations at the dinner table will start."
One of the larger gatherings was planned for Holland Park in Surrey, where a crowd of all ages, many dressed in pink, gathered with candles in front of a white tent and stage Friday night.
Supt. Bill Fordy, the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, read a statement from Todd's father which thanked people for sharing their thoughts, prayers and love.
"We would like to see changes made around the world to put an end to bullying once and for all," the statement said. "We want Amanda's story to be heard loud and clear and most importantly to keep her voice alive forever."
"It means a lot to see the world lighting up this evening in Amanda's honour. Stay strong."
In Victoria, about 100 people gathered at the city's Beacon Hill Park, many placing lit candles under a large tree where a make-shift memorial that included pictures of Todd had been set up.
Victoria vigil organizer Vanessa Downie said this was the first event she'd ever organized, but felt she had to honour Todd in some way while standing up against bullying.
"When I heard what happened to Amanda, it just broke my heart," said Downie, who plans to pursue a degree in social work.
"Then I got very angry that something so terrible could happen to someone so innocent and so young," she said. "It just makes me think we keep passing the responsibility on to teachers and organizations and it's not going to be solved by passing the torch. We have to take responsibility for it."
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