It was Oct. 17 of last year and Surrey’s Tad Milmine had settled in for the night. Like every other evening, he pulled out his iPhone to read the news before going to sleep.
The story of Jamie Hubley was making international headlines. And his tragic tale struck Milmine at his core.
“I was paralyzed,” Milmine recalls. “I was frozen in my bed.”
It brought him back to when he was five and dreamed of being a police officer so he could help people.
He read more about Jamie, an openly gay Ontario teen who had committed suicide after struggling for years with depression and relentless bullying.
“Here’s this 15-year-old boy, who is everything that I wished I had been – outgoing, happy, positive, trying to change people’s attitudes towards homosexuality.”
In contrast, Milmine, now 38, was a “horrifically” introverted and shy child. He didn’t have anyone to talk to, cried all the time and was taunted as a teen. The bullying incidents haunted him for years, despite being “mild” compared to what victims today face in the fast-paced world of social media and technology.
“Reading about Jamie, I remember thinking I had to do something,” said Milmine.
He began by creating a website (www.bullyingendshere.ca) to tell his story and Jamie’s, and hopefully, be a help to struggling youth.
Last spring, he started speaking at schools in B.C. and Ontario and from the response he received, knew his unique perspective could make a difference.
Between 10 and 15 per cent of the young people who have seen him reach out afterward looking for help or support.
Milmine, a three-year RCMP constable in Surrey, is openly gay. He tells students that when he speaks at schools, but makes it clear that the only reason he’s bringing it up is to demonstrate he understands what it’s like to feel like an outcast.
“I want to make sure these kids know that they do have someone.
“I know what it’s like to be different and unique, and I also know what it’s like to grow up and live my dream.”
But he also tells listeners that if they had a negative thought when he announced he was gay, they need to ask themselves why.
“I tell them I’m still the same person and if you call 911, no matter how much you hate me or dislike me or don’t understand me, I’m still going to be at your door asking how I can help you,” he says.
Milmine does his presentations on his days off and on his own dime. He’s scheduled at Sardis Secondary in Chilliwack on Nov. 8 and at Terry Fox Secondary in Coquitlam on Nov. 21 and 23, as well as a couple of Victoria schools in between. He’s shared his message with 3,000 students so far this year and has been invited to more than 400 schools.
The hundreds of messages he gets from students and adults provide all the motivation he needs.
“If I never have a penny compensated for the money I’ve spent, I don’t care,” he says. “I will go anywhere, anytime for these kids.”