Tad Milmine returned to Hope last week for the second time this year to share his message of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.
The RCMP officer addressed students at Hope Secondary School in an effort to empower youth to choose positive, individual change.
“What I always hope for is the fact that after the presentation, by simply hearing real stories, they recognize things such as their words and actions have very serious consequences on others and that ultimately they’re the masters of their own domain,” said Milmine. “They’re the ones that have control to make decisions and choices that are ultimately going to lead to their future. They can be a leader and choose to be positive, and they can watch out for others who are having challenges in school.
Milmine encourages students to stand up and be the voice for victims of bullying who don’t speak up. He points out that there is help for those struggling in silence, including through his website www.bullyingendshere.ca, which can be done in anonymity.
Milmine created the website in May 2012 to tell the story of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old Ottawa teen who took his own life because he couldn’t take the stress and abuse associated with being bullied because he was a figure skater and later for being openly gay. Hubley’s story reminded Milmine of his own life and the struggles he faced growing up. He made the decision then to do his part to help those being bullied by talking to youth in person and providing support, advice and friendship through his website.
Milmine starts each presentation by introducing himself, sharing his dream of being a police officer, and growing up and feeling alone. He openly discusses the challenges of growing up in a broken home full of addictions, being confined to a basement for many years and being bullied through school.
“I talk about how I felt being a victim at that stage of my life, how I was just going to hold everything in and get through it on my own,” said Milmine. “As I grew older, when I was at school, I was being bullied because I used to be horrifically introverted and incredibly shy. By the time I was 16, I recognized that I was depressed and I was also suicidal.”
Milmine goes through all the stages of his life, which includes running away at the age of 17 and having a chance encounter with a police officer at 32 who encouraged him to join the force.
He then introduces the story of Hubley and creates images of what exactly the teen endured during his years of bullying. Milmine also shares how he felt when he heard about the tragedy.
“Jamie was bullied because of the fact he was different. Then that’s when I break it to students that I too am openly gay,” he said. “Then I challenge them. If something inside them has changed negatively for them because I told them that I was gay, it’s not me that changed, it’s them. Even with their own intolerance, they have to take the personal initiative to find out why they have that reaction.”
Milmine does presentations on his days off and on his own dime. What started as a simple initiative to help youth, has gained momentum not only in Canada but abroad. Milmine has presentations slated in Scotland and England next spring.