The mother of Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd will speak at a Vancouver Island high school today, one day ahead of B.C.’s Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 27.
Shortly after Amanda committed suicide in 2012 – after posting her powerful video that used flashcards to tell a tortuous story of blackmail and extreme bullying and cyberbullying – Carol Todd began fielding media calls from around the world.
In those initial months following Amanda’s death, Todd barely had time to field half the requests she received but soon found time to reach out to others who had mentioned Amanda online.
“The media response after she died was incredible, it was global,” Todd said. “It let me know her story was global and how important it was to share what happened to her and to keep it on the forefront so we have a story we can relate to.”
In the time since, Todd, a teacher in the Coquitlam school district, has launched a non-profit society in the name of Amanda’s legacy and makes public speaking appearances. The non-profit recently created a scholarship at Douglas College, the Amanda Todd Legacy Music Therapy Award of Distinction, something that identifies with Amanda’s legacy of art.
“This isn’t my life goal,” Todd said. “There’s a million things I’d rather have done. Doing this, I’d like to have my daughter with me on centre stage. She kick-started my awareness to this. She wanted a kinder world and I will help create that [with] people who have the same passion, interest and care. That’s what drives me.”
Todd visited Victoria in November for the Victoria Symphony’s performance of the Amanda Todd Story and returns to the Island to speak at Reynolds Secondary on Feb. 26. She’s the latest of guest speakers at the school which hosted Travis Price, Pink Shirt Day founder, in 2018 (Price spoke at Mount Douglas secondary in 2017) and has a strong tradition that’s nearing a decade of celebrating the event.
Amanda was an artist, that was her passion, and the symphony and the scholarship art part of that passion, Todd said.
“I have 130 slides in my deck for presenting but I rarely get to No. 10,” Todd said. “I’m a story teller, I think we hear better with real life stories, and I’ve gathered a lot of stories, some sad, some uplifting.”
While she speaks a lot, Todd’s not in the business of public speaking. Her life is a balance of teaching and promoting awareness around bullying, technology and cyberbullying.
“If the students can take one thing away that they can use, that’s the important thing because these are the influencers of the next generation, we need to encourage them to be the best leaders,” Todd said.
Expect a speech that is well researched with strong advice, but one that also comes from her heart, she said.
“Your digital footprint is out there,” Todd said. “What are you going to leave behind for yourselves? This is time for youth to make sure they’re considering what they post, we’re all role models.”
Too often tragic stories fall off the radar and this one hasn’t, Todd said.
“What happened to her in 2010 to 2012 is still happening, even more so, to both adults and teens, whether it’s through sexting, texting, the technologies have advanced and becomes easier,” Todd said. “That’s not to blame the technology. It’s the user behind the technology. But it’s also technology that makes it easier to transfer that information. And that’s what youth need to understand.”
This year Reynolds students secured Reynolds annual “anti-bully pledges” from first responders around the region that are posted in the walls as a united front, said Reynolds counsellor Heather Benson.