Nfld. & Labrador

Torrence Collier, 11, says he faces racism, extreme bullying in Westport

An 11-year-old boy on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula is the victim of racism and extreme bullying, according to family members who say they're all at their breaking point.

Boy who is only black child in town uses separate washroom, under constant supervision while at school

Allegations of school bullying, racism

9 years ago
Duration 2:09
A mother in Westport, N.L. says her son is facing severe bullying and racism at school, reports Lindsay Bird

An 11-year-old boy on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula is the victim of racism and extreme bullying, according to family members who say they're all at their breaking point.

Grade 5 student Torrence Collier is the only black child in the town of Westport, which has a population of about 200.

The Colliers moved back to Westport from Saskatchewan about a year and a half ago, and say that soon after, the bullying began, along with physical assaults.

"I feel kind of scared," said Torrence Collier. "And I ask myself, 'Why does everybody hate me so much?'"

I feel horrible about myself. And sometimes, I wonder if they're right.- Torrence Collier

Heather Collier said her son endures daily, endless slurs and threats at St. Peter's Academy in Westport.

She said comments have included the N-word, as well as other insults like "rapist."

When asked by CBC whether anything has been done about the Colliers' complaints, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said in a statement that it has held diversity and anti-bullying presentations for all students at St. Peter's Academy.

The school board said that a director will be sent out to speak with the Colliers in the coming days.

School like a prison, mom says

Torrence Collier said the insults are tough.

"I feel horrible about myself," he said. "And sometimes, I wonder if they're right. If I am all those things that they call me."

Heather Collier said her son Torrence, 11, endures endless slurs and threats at St. Peter's Academy in Westport every day. (CBC)

Heather Collier said the issue came to a head in March, when she found a note handwritten by her son.

"He had stated in there that he wanted to die, and he couldn't take the daily bullying any more," she said.

The Colliers said that for their son, school is now more like a prison. He is supervised during the entire school day, and uses a separate washroom to avoid attacks.

Family sought counselling

Torrence has been approved to transfer to a school in nearby Baie Verte in September. But his mother said she worries that even if they can manage the longer commute, it might not solve the situation.

"Where do we go? How do we stop this?" Heather Collier asked. 

"Because even if he does go [to] Copper Ridge School, we still got the concern with the summer."

The Colliers have contacted the local health authorities, seeking counselling for their son.

The deputy mayor of Westport said she knew nothing about the allegations until a local CBC-TV broadcast aired on Tuesday, adding that as far as she knew, the town has never discriminated against anyone.

Unlike other Canadian jurisdictions, the school district in Newfoundland and Labrador is a provincially run body, and has no direct affiliation with town authorities.