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Taking a stand against violence

Delta forum addresses bullying and its potential effects.

It was inspired by the 2008 murder of a local young woman, but organizers of an upcoming anti-bullying forum in North Delta hope the event will yield some long-term, effective solutions to community violence.

The forum, called Take a Stand/Lend a Hand, will take place in North Delta on Feb. 23, the same day as Pink Shirt Day – an annual national effort to raise awareness about bullying.

The Delta forum, hosted by Delta-North MLA Guy Gentner, Newton-North Delta MP Sukh Dhaliwal and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, was initially sparked by a conversation the three politicians had with Maureen Chatham, whose daughter Melissa, 24, was beaten to death by her boyfriend two-and-a-half years ago.

“After meeting with Mrs. Chatham, we had a discussion about what we as politicians could be doing in our community to help victims of violence. We discussed a forum on domestic violence, but then decided that the symptoms of violence go much further than that,” said Gentner. “Violence permeates our society in a variety of ways; different types of bullying are part of what could transcend into other forms of violence.”

Jackson hopes the forum will also result in a pooling and streamlining of resources, making it simpler for people to get the assistance they need – and get it quickly.

“I envision a clearing house of sorts; a place where anyone can go to enquire about resources available in Delta and how to access them. We could also institute a hotline for those who wanted or needed anonymity. There are many wonderful organizations attempting to address this problem,” she said.

Reasons, types and effects of bullying will also be examined, and solutions sought.

“Finding a way to come together municipally, provincially and federally to help meet the need and to show unity of this issue will only help our community. We want to hear from people and hope we can find some solutions,” said Dhaliwal.

Speakers at the event include Jesse Miller, a national expert on cyber bullying and Cindi Seddon, author and co-founder of Coquitlam’s Bully Beware program. Delta resident and broadcaster Simi Sara will MC the evening.

Take a Stand/Lend a Hand is at the North Delta Recreation Centre, 11415 84 Ave., on Feb. 23. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome. For more information, check