“More people are at home all the time,” said Rachel Tinney, associate executive director of Tikinagan Child and Family Services, which is leading the campaign.
“I’m sure that young people are on the Internet much more than usual,” she said. “Bullying, cyberbullying especially, is rampant … throughout the north, and in many other places. And so I think it’s important that we’re working together and trying to address it, and trying to get the young people talking about it.”
The campaign also involves Nishnawbe Aski police, the OPP, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
Tinney said some children have come forward with reports of receiving hurtful messages through social media.
“Just really saying ‘you’re ugly,’ or awful things, even up to telling someone to go kill themselves,” she said. “Sometimes, young people aren’t talking about it, or aren’t sharing what kind of cyberbullying is happening online.”
“Their issues become larger. They might be depressed, they might show mental health issues, they might even have some suicidal ideation or attempts, which is very, very serious, and we want to help them address these things.”
The campaign, Tinney said, is about raising awareness, but it’s also offering young people in Indigenous communities the chance to participate in a contest by submitting a logo and slogan.
“I find that so many young people are very artistic, and they are welcoming this kind of outlet for their work,” she said. “If they learn about cyberbullying, or bullying, maybe they can learn how to help it, also.”
The contest is open to students in grades 1-12 from any Indigenous community served by Tikinagan or its partners.
More information can be found at tikinagan.org.
Superior Morning6:07Tikanagan anti-bullying campaign