Saskatchewan musicians spreading anti-bullying message

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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With bullying taking many forms in the province, two musicians are stepping up to spread hope to children through their music and stories.

Saskatchewan musicians Stephen Maguire will be performing at schools around the province to spread an anti-bullying message with fellow musician Codie Prevost and the Canadian Red Cross in the coming weeks.

Saskatchewan musicians Codie Prevost and Stephen Maguire will be continuing their partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to spread their anti-bullying message across the province.

The musicians have been receiving training from the Canadian Red Cross before heading out on the tour this week, said Maguire. The training will help them answer questions and give the students information, such as numbers kids can call if they are having problems. 

“Primarily in the seven schools we went to we talked about ourselves because like anybody, we are experts in our own story because we lived it,” Maguire said.

Sharing their own experiences lets the children know they are not alone and others have been bullied too.

Maguire grew up in Ireland and while attending school uniforms were mandatory.

“In Ireland and the UK, kids wear school uniforms and you are identified by your colours basically what religion you are,” Maguire said. “In Belfast, I went to Christian Brother’s School and I had a cross on my blazer that I had to wear as part of my school uniform, which identified me as a Catholic.”

Often, students would find themselves under attack, especially if they ventured in protestant communities.

“It was simply because of the colours you wore, nothing you said,” Maguire said. “That is a different kind of form (of bullying), but because of that it spilled over into our school then.

“It was a bit of a pressure cooker because there was constant hostility outside of the school walls so it spilled into the school where kids were taking it out on each other and that kind of bullying erupted,” he added.

He said the same types of bullying occur in Saskatchewan, where there are a lot of immigrants who get bullied for being different.

Although there is bullying in schools, Maguire said there is “a light at the end of the tunnel,” which is why he and Prevost decided to help with the campaign.

“The thing is, when you put us up on stage and give us a microphone, it is one of those things, for me personally, I want to do something good with that,” Maguire said. “As musicians we are constantly in the public eye and it was just a real opportunity to do a good thing.

“I grew up in a pretty hostile environment in Belfast and for 25 years I experienced bullying on all sorts of levels -- in school and outside of school,” he added. “When I came here I thought it was time to give a wee bit back on that front and so far we have presented to seven schools and over 3,500 students -- it has been incredible.”

Another reason Maguire wanted to be part of the campaign was hearing stories about bullying in the news.

“I had noticed in the last couple of years here especially, every other week there was a thing in the paper about this,” Maguire said. “Children are losing their lives and I mean it is incredibly tough.”

Maguire thought he could help make a difference in the children’s lives.

“Sometimes you just need someone from outside of the bubble you are in, out of your school, a different voice -- someone who is coming in and not just talking at you, but talking with you,” Maguire said. “Some of these students are really hurting and just to listen, it has been incredibly powerful.”

During the presentation, they each play a set of songs, share their stories and then finish the show together with a song they wrote called “Let Love Conquer All.” A free download of the song is available on Maguire’s website, stephenmaguirelive.com.

“We just wanted to cap off the presentation together as a united front and say, ‘Look, here we are, thank you for your time,’” he said.

The response has been great because the kids enjoy a visit from the musicians but they also get to have meaningful conversations about problems they face.

“We have had emails from students we presented to, we have had messages on Facebook saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you for coming and listening to me and answering my questions,’” Maguire said. “It has been unbelievable.

“The very important thing is too is the Red Cross are wanting to go in and follow up with the schools and do some training with the students as well,” Maguire added. “It is important that we are not going to sing songs, tell some story and then see you later. We definitely want there to be a follow up and just to keep the students inspired.”

He is looking forward to the presentations in the coming weeks.

“We are going to be very busy and getting into as many schools and communities as we can,” Maguire said. “It is just to keep flying that flag and saying we are not going away any time soon and just keep doing good things.”

They will be doing five presentations starting this week on Wednesday at Fort Livingstone School in Pelly, on to Ecole White City School in White City on April 2, Blaine Lake Composite School in Blaine Lake on April 7, Turvey Centre in Regina on April 8 and Eastend School in Eastend on April 10. Tickets will be $10 and available at the school office.

“We are hoping in the next couple of months to go to a lot more schools and in the fall again as well,” Maguire said. “This is a thing, for us, that is at least going to be a five year thing.

“Unfortunately this isn’t going away any time soon.”

Organizations: Red Cross, Fort Livingstone School, Ecole White City School Blaine Lake Composite School Turvey Centre Eastend School

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Ireland, Belfast UK Pelly White City Blaine Lake Regina

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  • GloriaR
    March 24, 2014 - 11:33

    To try to help combat bullying, songs can teach children about kindness and tolerance. The song “Be a Buddy, not a Bully” can be heard on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or7WPUtUnRo