Indigenous

Kashechewan First Nation teen's message about bullying goes viral on Facebook

Gregory Sutherland, a 16-year-old Cree youth, took to Facebook with a deeply personal anti-bullying message; now that video has gone viral.

'I can't really walk around town because I am afraid to get teased, to get bullied,' Cree youth says in video

A 16-year-old Cree youth's deeply personal anti-bullying message has gone viral on Facebook.

Gregory Sutherland recorded a 14-minute plea for an end to bullying that's been shared thousands of times.

"I can't really walk around town because I am afraid to get teased, to get bullied," Sutherland says in the video, which has been viewed more than 30,000 times.

Sutherland, from the Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario, said he knows first-hand that bullying can lead to thoughts of suicide.

"2015 was my hardest year. 2015 is where I attempted suicide, and I just grabbed a handful of pills, but I failed. And I'm glad it failed," said Sutherland.

Now he hopes the video lets others who experience bullying know they have a friend in him.

"I'd like to tell them bullying may happen to you every day, but your future is still bright. Just ignore them," he said.

Gregory Sutherland dreams of a world where everyone is happy, and he hopes ending bullying is the first step. (Facebook)

Sutherland said on the advice of his aunt and uncle, he's ignored the bullies since kindergarten, but in Grade 4 the bullying turned from name calling to swearing and fighting.

Most of the bullying focuses on the fact that he's overweight, he said.

"Mostly every time I go out in public, when I'm walking on the road, when I'm in high school, when I'm at the public store, there would be these group of kids or teenagers … that would follow me around, curse at me, throw stuff at me and call me names, call me out, always wanting to fight me."

In the past, Sutherland's aunt and uncle have called the bullies' parents, and the behaviour would stop — for a little while. 

"Ever since i made the video I haven't been bullied — yet."

Now he's hoping to show victims of bullying they're not alone.

"There aren't videos like that from youth, and I haven't come across videos that have a 16-year-old who's overweight that talks about his bullying story."

His aunt and uncle we're surprised he posted a video because Sutherland rarely shows his face on social media.

Surprised by reaction

Since Gregory Sutherland's video went viral, he has received an outpouring of support. (Facebook)

Since it was posted, a few people have reached out to him to share their own stories of being bullied, and he comforts them and lets them know he's their friend, he said. But he feels more people can help.

"If you see someone getting bullied you just defend them. You don't ignore the person being bullied, you defend them. That's what I'm doing, I'm defending the victims of bullying."

Sutherland says he will continue to make videos, and hopes to one day end bullying. He knows it'll be hard, but it's part of his goal in life.

"My one dream is for everyone to feel happy."

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