Teenager and mother recognized for anti-bullying campaign
MONTREAL - Bullied, on the verge of taking his own life, Maxime Collard finally said enough was enough.
The 13-year-old decided to fight back instead, and organized a march to raise awareness about bullying.
Hundreds of people participated in the April 16, 2011 walk through the streets of Sorel-Tracy, including provincial and federal politicians, school board commissioners, children and their parents.
The event put Maxime in the spotlight, and he was interviewed throughout Quebec, culminating in an appearance on the popular talk show Tout le monde en parle.
The pair actively work in the field, giving speeches to other students and writing about their experiences.
Now, Maxime and his mother have been honoured with the Paul Gerin-Lajoie prize from the Tolerance Foundation.
It's hard to say exactly when Maxime's ordeal began, but by last winter it had become almost routine for other children to push him into mud and throw rocks at him.
"They often yelled 'you're fat, you're ugly,'" said Maxime. so much so that "I started to believe it. I became suicidal."
Instead Maxime pulled out of his despair and challenged his attackers.
Monday night, to mark the International Day of Tolerance, the Tolerance Foundation held a ceremony hosted by Anne Lagace Dowson and Jean Lapierre to recognize his achievement.
"This is exactly what we're hoping people will do, is that they will empower themselves in their own communities to try and raise the profiles of these issues and to combat them," said Lagace Dowson.
Maxime's mother says parents need to talk to their children, especially as online bullying become more prevalent.
"I try, and I don't stop," said Isabelle Marchand.
Previous winners of the award including Father Emmett Johns, the founder of Dans La Rue, and Dr. Gilles Julien, a pediatrician who promotes community-driven care.