Youth art exhibit ties into anti-bullying legislation

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – When Brad Kennedy started his painting for the Bee The Change, he envisioned a different image than one of a dripping, bleeding heart on a black canvas.

Northumberland Regional High School student Kassidy MacKinnon speaks to Peter MacKay by her painting for the Bee The Change show at the Celtic Circle. Students were visiting the exhibit on Friday. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS

However, it ended up encapsulating what he wanted to say about bullying and Rehtaeh Parsons anyway.

“You can’t get away from it, and it’s pulling you down,” the Grade 8 student said, explaining that the dripping represents a sense of being pushed into despair.

Kennedy is one of Carolyn Vienneau’s art students who produced work for an exhibition in honour of Parsons, a Cole Harbour teenager who committed suicide following alleged online bullying.

Students were at the exhibit at the Celtic Circle on Friday to see the artwork and hear from Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

MacKay introduced legislation on Nov. 20, 2013, to target online crime, including prohibiting non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Bill C-13 went to a committee in the House of Commons earlier this week to be examined.

“It’s important we change the way we think about the use of the Internet, use of computers and hand-held devices,” he said to students on Friday. “Don’t ever feel trapped. Don’t ever feel that it’s hopeless or that your life is over because of something that happened, something that is embarrassing to you. There’s help available.”

Following his remarks, MacKay got a look at some of the work, including a piece by Grade 10 student Kassidy MacKinnon.

MacKinnon used acrylic and mixed media to showcase Parsons’ favourite animal, crows, and a Nelson Mandela quote.

Many of the works reflect personal aspects of Parsons, whether it’s images of crows, portraits or news clippings about her.

The show runs until the end of May.

Organizations: House of Commons

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