MPs from across the country reflect on their childhood and share their story of belonging.
Having a sense of belonging is important for everyone, particularly at a young age. Personally, a moment for me that really stands out when I really felt a sense of belonging was when I was in grade 10. I had recently moved to a new school and I found it difficult to fit in. Fortunately, someone had suggested that I audition for a school musical. Despite my nervousness, I did audition and to my surprise, I made it. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. More importantly, I made a lot of friends during the preparation for the school musical, and it was the first time that I really felt like I belonged to a group of friends who cared about me. The four years I spent with the school musical and drama team is a memory that I cherish to this day.
The Honourable Dr. Colin Carrie, MP for Oshawa, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment
I represent a riding and community where many people feel excluded or that they don't belong or "fit in", because of stereotypes, discrimination, and lack of understanding. I have learned over many years of working with people, that the need for community and belonging, is something we all yearn for. Belonging comes when we don't judge others; when we are open to understanding differences; and when we work to build real communities of people and places.
The Honourable Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East
Bullying is something that affects the most vulnerable Canadians: our children. Children are our most valuable resource, worthy of our greatest protection. Bullying is not a rite of passage and should never be considered as part of “growing up”. I would like to express my thoughts and prayers, which I am sure are shared by all Members of Parliament, for the children and families affected by bullying. You are not alone.
This is an issue that has touched my family and so many others. As a parent, you never want to see your child experience such pain and confusion. That is why it is important that parents, teens, teachers and coaches come together and address this serious issue as a community, by celebrating our differences and showing compassion for the victims of bullying.
The work done by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and the CIBC in helping youth affected by bullying is commendable. I am also grateful for the work of other groups and organizations in this area, like the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which recently launched NeedHelpNow.ca – an online resource for youth and parents dealing with cyber-bullying. I encourage all Canadians to support these anti-bullying initiatives and to play a part in ensuring that our children and youth feel a sense of safety and belonging.
The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, MP for Delta—Richmond East, Minister of National Revenue
When I was little, I was not one of the “popular” kids. I was generally the one person in the class who would not be invited to the cool kids’ parties. My little brother would get beaten up nearly every day at school, and then the teachers would accuse him of starting fights! He used to ask if they really thought he was starting fights with 10-12 other boys who would have piled on to punch or hit. It seemed funny to him, even then.
I had a real sense of belonging to my own family. Our time at home re-built our self-esteem. Our mother, in particular, would tell us that the mean kids were going to grow up to be real losers. She had this theory that bullies were generally insecure, jealous of kids who got good grades and would excel, while bullies would go on to be failures. I have to admit, it wasn’t very convincing at the time, but as I grew up, I saw that it was true!
I always had a sense of belonging from the animals that occupied my life at home. We had ponies and sheep, dogs and cats, a donkey, and chickens (although chickens do not really let you know if they notice you). I also found an escape from being treated badly at school through my books. Reading a good book, (I loved the Narnia books) always helped me find a place of belonging. I worry about kids today when Facebook and texting can allow bullies to follow you home. Shut the door on bullies. Don’t pay any attention to anyone who is mean to you. They are not worth your time, but do tell your friends and any adults you trust that you are being bothered. That feeling of belonging comes from people (or even animals) who love you. There are more people who love you than you know. You just have to let them know you need a bit of support.
The Honourable Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, Green Party Leader
Childhood can be a cruel time. Young Dany, 10 years old and socially awkward, starts getting bullied at school. I don’t know why they picked me. Maybe it was because I was chubby, or maybe they had an inkling of my actual sexual orientation. But when you get down to it, I was an easy target. For 5 long years, I suffered through their torment.
I was afraid of going to class, I didn’t want to get humiliated again. My self-esteem was the lowest it’s ever been and I didn’t even love myself. Instead of putting up a shield to protect myself, I reverted to a shell and wouldn’t let people in. Instead of becoming stronger, I got weaker and weaker.
At 15, my luck turned. My bullies harassed me less and less and their attacks were less violent. Maybe they found someone new to torture. Maybe they finally grew up. More unanswered questions.
Yet, I never asked for help. If I had had the courage to speak up then, maybe I wouldn’t have experienced this hell for 5 years.
Yes, I survived, but at what cost? My scars are hidden to the world but they’re there within me. If only I had the courage to speak up earlier…
The Honourable Dany Morin, MP for Chicoutimi-Le Fjord
In my years as a school trustee, I saw firsthand the importance in supporting children who are bullied and the impact bullying has on a child. We must all work together to ensure this type of behaviour isn’t tolerated.
Honourable Joyce Bateman, MP for Winnipeg South Centre