Photography by Sergei Belski Image by: Photography by Sergei Belski
Where she's from: Airdrie, Alta.
Award: Social Action
Contribution: She successfully campaigned for an antibullying bylaw in her hometown of Airdrie, Alta.
Where would I like to be in 10 years: "I'm hoping to pursue a career as a criminal prosecutor and to continue my speeches across Canada, speaking out against the stigma of mental health and bullying, and promoting suicide awareness.”
Both Mackenzie Murphy and her mother, Tara, credit one of last year's Canadian Living Me to We Award winners, Carol Todd—and her daughter, Amanda Todd—for saving Mackenzie's life and "continuing to save it every day.” Carol has been speaking out about bullying since Amanda committed suicide in 2012 as a result of online torment.
In 2012, after years of trauma from bullying (both cyber and otherwise), Mackenzie also attempted to take her own life at age 12. Fortunately, she did not succeed. While recovering in the hospital, she saw Amanda's video diary account of her experience with bullying. "It took a huge burden off me,” she says. "I thought, Wow, I am not alone.”
She decided to launch a campaign for an antibullying bylaw in her town of Airdrie, Alta. She initiated a meeting with the mayor and spent nine months campaigning intensively—during which time she was bullied more than ever— before the bylaw passed. There were hundreds of comments on her Facebook page, most of which Tara deleted before Mackenzie read them. But what she did see (one month out of hospital) included the names "hypocrite,” "slut” and "fake.” And people greeted her sarcastically in the street. "It was pure torture,” she says. "Before the bylaw passed, people thought, I can bully Mackenzie as much as I want to.” I ask Mackenzie why she thinks bullies target her. "They think I'm fat,” she says with an almost audible shrug.
While Mackenzie was in the hospital, Carol Todd contacted Tara. "She gave my mom something to lean on,” says Mackenzie. When I express amazement that Carol would reach out during her own time of grief, Mackenzie says, "She's a strong woman.” Clearly, not the only one.
Mackenzie's experiences have taught her to believe in herself and to speak up— not just for herself but for others. Now her message has reached people world- wide, in the same way Amanda Todd's story touched her.
For more inspirational stories like Mackenzie's, check out our 2014 Me to We Awards.
|This story was originally titled "Mackenzie Murphy" in the October 2014 issue. |
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