The federal government will fund the training of 2,400 young people to deliver anti-bullying workshops in their communities and reach out to others, according to an announcement made Monday at the Ottawa school of a student who committed suicide after years of bullying.
Heritage Minister James Moore made the announcement at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in suburban Kanata alongside the prime minister's wife, Laureen Harper, and Ottawa Coun. Allan Hubley, the father of 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, who died in the fall of 2011.
'Why do people have to be cruel to our children when all they want to do is be loved?' —Allan Hubley, Ottawa councillor and father of bullying victim Jamie Hubley
"If we do nothing, it will lead to the death of children," Moore told reporters and students Monday.
Harper said: "This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, as well as my husband's."
The Canadian Red Cross's Stand Up to Bullying and Discrimination in Canadian Communities project will get $250,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage's Youth Take Charge program, Moore said.
About 2,400 young people, ages 13 to 17, will be trained during the first part of the program to deliver workshops, presentations and other special events about bullying and cyberbullying.
"In the second part [of the program], three youth-led forums in the Atlantic region, Ontario and British Columbia will empower 150 Canadian youth to take action against bullying and discrimination in their communities," according to a news release.
Hubley, openly gay, bullied throughout school years
Jamie Hubley was a figure skater and the only openly gay student at A.Y. Jackson. He had been bullied throughout his school years.
His father said Jamie suffered from depression. The politician has also advocated for more front-line services for bullied children since his son's death.
"He just wanted someone to love him. That's all," Allan Hubley told CBC News in 2011. "And what's wrong with that? Why do people have to be cruel to our children when all they want to do is be loved?"
Hubley's death was part of the impetus for a new provincial bill that has become law. It provides tougher sanctions for bullies and protection for teens that want to set up gay-heterosexual alliances in their schools.
At the time, some groups denounced the bill as infringing on religious freedoms.
Jamie Hubley had tried to start an anti-discrimination Rainbow Club at his school, but his father said the posters were torn down, and he was called vicious names in the hallways and online.
On Monday, his father thanked the government for "answering our hopes and prayers" with a program to help prevent other families from suffering similar losses.