Prince George students write to bullied Mission, B.C., teen to show solidarity

·2 min read
Prince George students write to bullied Mission, B.C., teen to show solidarity

A group of high schoolers from Prince George, B.C., are showing support for a teen from Mission who was attacked by two girls last week.

On Wednesday, students of Duchess Park Secondary School in the northern city sent cards and letters addressed to the 14-year-old transgender student from the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver. The student was beaten by two female Grade 8 students at École Heritage Park Middle School on Jan. 11 in an incident captured on video.

"I just want to commend you on your strength and resilience for going through such a terrible thing," wrote Daisy Scheifley, Grade 11 student at Duchess Park. "Don't let others' judgment change you or scare you. Never apologize for being yourself."

Scheifley was one of the students who watched the video in teacher Tanja Gattrell's class on Tuesday.

"Every student felt moved by what happened," Gattrell told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West. "Lots of disbelief, anger and sadness and confusion on how people could just stand by and not do anything … in this day and age."

On Sunday, hundreds of vehicles festooned with pink balloons, rainbow signs and anti-bullying messages drove slowly through a riverfront area of Mission to offer support to the bullied teen.

In the past, Gattrell and her students wrote letters to seniors in care homes and decorated school windows with paper hearts to show solidarity with front-line workers.

Shane MacKichan
Shane MacKichan

Having communicated with the principal of École Heritage Park last Friday, Gattrell suggested the whole class write to the Mission student after watching the video.

"It was very emotional just watching them engage in this [letter and card writing] and doing it so wholeheartedly and lovingly," said Gattrell.

Scheifley was encouraged by fellow classmates who shared her desire to show support.

"I honestly find it very uplifting that so many kids in our class were so open and supportive and wanted to make a change," she said.

"We need to start standing up for others, and it's OK to be different."

Two girls have been arrested in connection with a violent incident in École Heritage Park Middle School, which is still under RCMP's investigation.

After a separate assault on Jan. 13 at Mission Secondary School, a 14-year-old girl was arrested last Friday.

Tap the link below to hear Tanja Gattrell and Daisy Scheifley's interview on Radio West: