Bikers are taking a stand, well actually a ride, against bullies.
Expect between 200 and 300 motorcycle riders to pass by Agassiz on Highway 7 Sunday, July 26 as they participate in the annual Bikes Against Bullies event. This event was started three years ago as a response to the death of Amanda Todd.
Todd was a Port Coquitlam teenager who committed suicide after repeated bullying. Todd posted a Youtube video that went viral about her situation, reaching more than 10 million views after her death a month later.
Tneesa Tyerman knew of Todd through her step sister, and she herself had struggled with bullying as a teenager. Her father rides a motorcycle and every year, he would take Tyerman on different charity bike events. She decided to organize a ride event to raise awareness about the issue.
“The whole ideas is to raise awareness, and to take a stand that bullying is not OK,” says Tyerman.
They want to have a strong showing of support for anti-bullying in the mass of bikers coming together. Tyerman says it doesn’t hurt that most kids think motorcycle riders are cool and if they say bullying is not OK, the hope is the kids take the message to heart.
She says one of the interesting things she’s learned over the last few years of being involved with this event is that a lot of anti-bullying is focused on kids. But in talking to participants on the ride, they share about bullying in the workplace, or in their social lives. Some have shared stories of bullying back in their school days that still touches them deeply as adults.
The event is sponsored by Trev Deeley Motorcycles and Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation band. Mike Bellegarde, economic developer for the band, says it’s a good fit for the Sq’ewá:lxw to be involved in this event.
“Suicide and bullying is something that really affects First Nations children disproportionately,” says Bellegarde.
In a press release, the band states that most Indigenous people have experienced some type of bullying because of their heritage, and the sexual exploitation of young Indigenous women continues to be ignored by the federal government. While the Amanda Todd Legacy Society doesn’t have a specific mandate to assist Indigenous youth, they make efforts to help everyone who suffers from bullying or sexual exploitation, regardless of race.
Bellegarde is happy to help join motorcylists to the cause of anti-bullying.
“Motorcyclists always step up to the plate and raise money,” he says. “A lot of time, people think of motorcyclists as big tough guys that are bullies themselves. But generally, I find they have big hearts.”
Thanks to the band’s funding, 100 per cent of rider’s funds will go to the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund.
This will be the first year the ride leaves the Lower Mainland. For the third annual event, the riders will head from Trev Deeley Motorcyles in Vancouver to Ruby Creek Art Gallery on the Lougheed Highway.
It will be a great party, Bellegarde promises, with the salmon barbecue, performances, speeches, silent auction and family fun.
The cost for the ride / salmon barbecue lunch is $20, with all proceeds going to the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund. If you’re not a rider or don’t want to start from Vancouver, Bellegarde invites you to come on out for the $20 lunch, see some cool bikes and hang out, all for a good cause. He expects the riders should start arriving at the gallery around 1 p.m. All are welcome.
For more information or to register for the ride, see http://amandatoddlegacy.org