Hundreds of people in more than 40 cities around the world are expected to light candles tonight to remember bullying victim Amanda Todd and to take a quiet stand against the kind of torment that led her to take her own life.
A Facebook page has been set up listing memorials for the 15-year-old Port Coquitlam, B.C., girl from cities in the Vancouver area to cities in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Vigils are being held in at least five American states, as well as Copenhagen and various cities in India.
“I am overwhelmed,” said Lucky Gill, the Vancouver-area resident who launched Global Girl Power with her niece the same day news broke of Todd’s death.
“My vision was to get the word out. Even if one family lights up one candle in the house, kids in that house will see that ‘Oh, our parents care,’ so they will feel more comfortable with them. Maybe conversations at the dinner table will start.”
One of the largest gatherings has been planned to take place at Holland Park in Surrey, B.C., and attendees are being asked to wear pink.
The Toronto District School Board asked its 250,000 students and 40,000 staff members to pause for one minute of silence Friday morning.
That observance came at the same time as news was breaking of charges against eight girls in a bullying case at a high school in London, Ont.
An investigation found a student at the school had been the target of physical, emotional and online bullying, police said.
The girls are each charged with criminal harassment and have been released from custody on a promise to appear in court.
Police said information about the alleged bullying came from direct statements and through an anonymous reporting portal on the school website.
Todd killed herself by suicide on Oct. 10 after enduring years of Internet sexual exploitation and bullying by her peers.
A month before her death, she posted a video to YouTube in which she flips through dozens of cards, writing her story in short, black sentences.
She said she was in Grade 7 when she was lured by an unidentified male to expose her breasts during a chat. A year later she said she received a message from a man on Facebook threatening that if she didn’t give him a show, he would send the webcam picture to her friends and family.
“He knew my address, school, relatives, friends, family names,” she wrote.
Over Christmas break there was a knock on her door at 4 a.m.
“It was the police... my photo was sent to everyone,” she wrote. “I then got really sick and then got anxiety, major depression and panic disorder.”
In the video that has now been viewed more than 8.5 million times, she outlines more recent bullying over her relationship with a boy that escalated to an assault that left her lying bloodied in a ditch.
She said she tried to kill herself twice.
Her last words on the video were: “I have nobody. I need someone.”
Police have launched an investigation into all aspects of her case, but were forced earlier this week to deny on-line rumours and accusations that named a Vancouver-area man as Todd’s tormentor. Police said the rumours and resulting Internet vigilante threats were delaying their investigation.
Ms. Gill, a realtor, said she is a mother of two teenagers and began Global Girl Power with her niece.
“It’s not an organization. It’s just a movement of two girls,” she said.
“I think it takes a community to raise a child, so from that perspective, that’s where we started. I think each girl deserves to live and to need to be protected and respected and educated and inspired.”