A girl who has been bullied at a Shuswap elementary school is in need of a lift; two groups of bikers who have made it their mission to raise awareness of the harm caused by bullying plan to give it to her.
Nine-year-old Samiya Noor has been regularly tormented by other students at Chase’s Haldane Elementary, according to the girl’s grandmother Vicki Gustavson.
Gustavson said Noor has been the target of racial slurs, and an array of physical violence.
The torment began towards the end of Noor’s third grade year and got so bad Gustavson, who is Noor’s guardian, made the decision to homeschool the girl for approximately five months.
Upon Noor’s return to school the bullying continued. Gustavson said in a recent incident, Noor was knocked to the ground and had grass shoved into her mouth.
Gustavson said Noor even shaved off her eyebrows after being teased about them and hid a knife in her room with the intention of using it on herself.
“She just kind of withdrew from life and the world and she’s only nine years old,” Gustavson said of the way her granddaughter’s behaviour has changed since the bullying began.
In solidarity with what Noor is experiencing, two groups of anti-bullying motorcycle enthusiasts are planning a visit to Chase on Friday, May 10.
Steve Enns, the founder of Bullying Enns, one of the two groups of Albertan motorcycle enthusiasts who will be making the trip, is hopeful a visit from the bikers will improve Noor’s situation or at least lift her spirits.
Since founding the group in 2017, Enns has organized more than 40 rides in the Edmonton area where a group of bikers picks up or drops off bullying victims at school.
“In the past it’s kicked off a conversation and got kids talking to the bullied kids who might’ve never talked to them,” Enns said.
James Manley, a representative of Bikers are Buddies, a Calgary-based group which does anti-bullying work, said Noor’s story hits especially close to home for the Calgary riders. He said a nine-year-old girl in Calgary recently took her own life after being targeted by bullies.
Enns said the biggest thing he wants to impress on people ahead of the visit from the bikers is that this isn’t about intimidating bullies, but rather about starting a conversation and setting an example of sticking up for victims.
Manley said he is impressed by the way word of the Alberta bikers’ ride to B.C. has spread in the local community, kicking off a dialogue about the effects bullying can have and the way it is being handled in schools. He also said businesses along the bikers’ route have been supportive of the cause with Riders Retreat in Nakusp and Joe Schmucks Road House in Sicamous providing discounted accommodation.
Although she is pleased with the way community members have rallied around her granddaughter, Gustavson does not feel the school has done enough to protect the girl.
Rob Schoen, School District #73’s assistant superintendent in charge of elementary schools, said the district has clear policies against bullying and they have been followed at Haldane.
“We do have policies that relate to code of conduct bullying and cyber bullying. We take that very seriously; as soon as complaints of bullying are brought to the attention of the school or district we investigate them,” Schoen said.
The motorcyclists have been asked to stay off school property when they come to pick up Noor. Schoen said it is important they know that the school and district are not against their message, they are simply trying to avoid a distraction from the learning environment.
“We want to thank the motorcycle enthusiasts for the positive messaging. I think the more positive messaging we have out there in terms of anti bullying and supporting kindness is a beautiful thing,” he said.
Gustavson said she is immensely grateful for what the bikers are doing and plans to throw a backyard barbecue for them and any other members of the community interested in attending. Those interested in more information or contributing food can contact her at 250-879-0776.