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Yellowknife girl, 16, speaks out against online shaming

McKenzie Clowe is speaking out after an attempt to shame illegal garbage dumpers online turned into a bullying frenzy directed at the wrong person.

'I was trying to tell them it wasn't me, but no one really believed it wasn't me:' McKenzie Clowe

McKenzie Clowe became a target when someone posted a video attempting to shame illegal dumpers online. 'I was trying to tell them it wasn't me, but no one really believed it wasn't me.' (submitted by McKenzie Clowe)

A Yellowknife teenager is speaking out after an attempt to shame illegal garbage dumpers online turned into a bullying frenzy directed at the wrong person.

Last week, a man posted a video on his Facebook page of a mound of garbage dumped illegally at the Yellowknife sand pits. He picked up a piece of paper from the pile and read the name.

Clowe's name was found on a piece of paper among garbage dumped illegally near the Yellowknife sand pits. (CBC)
It turned out to be the name of a 16-year-old girl who wasn't responsible for the dumping, but the video went viral.

"People were, like, blaming me for this garbage, posting comments," says McKenzie Clowe. "I was trying to tell them it wasn't me, but no one really believed it wasn't me."

Asked who was responsible for dumping the garbage, Clowe says that a friend of the family had borrowed her dad's truck, with the bag of garbage in the back. That detail never made it online. 

'I feel like I had no control'

One person linked the video to Clowe's Facebook page. Another man posted her home address online.

Clowe says she felt humiliated, and angry.

"I feel like I had no control. They could just talk about me, and affect the way people looked at me."

Clowe's mother spoke out on Facebook and demanded the video be taken down.

Jan Fullerton, who works with youth in Yellowknife, also saw the video and demanded McKenzie's name be removed from the comments.

"When something like that goes online, that makes the young person a target, and that's a problem," Fullerton said.

Post removed

The post was removed several hours later, with the poster issuing an apology.

Clowe says she was fortunate she had someone to stand up for her.

"If someone tried to do this to someone else who didn't have didn't have anyone like I did… this could keep being a negative thing in their life. If they didn't have anyone to help support them, this could get really bad."

Police investigated and spoke with those who had been most vicious online.

Clowe says speaking out wasn't easy but she felt it was important.

"I felt like I should because it could happen to anyone without them doing anything, just by one person putting a video out there and everyone just agrees. Everyone just joins in and pretends like they know... but they don't." 

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