Victoria-area residents asked to light candle for victims of bullying

Lower Mainland teen’s suicide death a flashpoint for Victoria vigil

It’s my responsibility.

That’s how Vanessa Downie responded to the news of Lower Mainland teen Amanda Todd’s suicide after years of bullying.

“It’s gone on far too long, and we keep passing the responsibility along,” said Downie, who lives in Saanich. “I’m not going to pass it along anymore.”

She has organized a candlelight vigil in Beacon Hill Park on Friday (Oct. 19).

“It’s to pay respect for Amanda and let her know that she is not alone.”

By Wednesday morning, 64 people had committed to attending the Facebook-promoted event.

Downie herself was bullied growing up.

“It was quite rough,” she said. People pretended to be her friends, called her names, poured juice boxes down her shirt. She found solace in her horse.

“He was always happy to see me. It made all the difference in the world.”

Todd’s death prompted both provincial and federal governments to debate the merits of anti-bullying legislation. Downie sees that as a big step – but said it’s going to take a lot more.

“Bullying in general is about education and not education from the school system but (starting) much much younger than that,” she said.

The vigil starts at 5 p.m. Visit www.facebook.com/events/153672141443947/ for information on the gathering point. Signs and balloons in the park will direct people to the location.

rholmen@vicnews.com