Over 85 motorcycles piled into Chase Friday, May 10, in support of a local nine-year-old who has been relentlessly bullied at school for over a year.
While only a handful left Edmonton early Thursday, an invitation had been extended to any biker who wished to come out and support Samiya Noor. They were not disappointed.
Motorcycles kept pouring into the parking lot of Memorial Park Friday afternoon, the designated meeting area. Some were from Chase, others from Kamloops and even Vancouver, along with the Albertan riders. Just when they thought they had everyone who would be joining was in attendance, more poured in. Even a towing company based out of Barriere made their way to the meet-up, showing their support the best way they could.
By the time school came to a close and it was time to pick up Noor, there were over 85 motorcycles parked in the Art Holding Arena, adjacent to the school.
Before attending Haldane, Noor went to different schools in Alberta and never had an issue with bullies Noor’s grandmother and guardian, Vicki Gustavson, says, explaining that she had plenty of friends and was happy and outgoing. The issues didn’t start until they moved to Chase. While Gustavson doesn’t want to move from the area, stating she really likes the small-town vibe, at this point it is looking more like something they will need to do.
Noor arrived in the parking lot with a big smile as the crowd cheered for her. Some fellow students brought her bouquets of flowers, and she was presented with shirts, backpacks and stickers from Bullyings Enns, Bikers are Buddies and Against All Abuse anti-bullying biker groups.
Some of the bikers in attendance let go of their tough-guy personas and shed some tears at the sight of the overwhelming support they received.
Bullying Enns has never done a pick-up so far away from their home-base in Edmonton and the group wasn't sure what to expect.
The group left Edmonton with three bikes and met up with Bikers are Buddies in Calgary where they hit the road with 20 bikes, Andrew Phillips, one of the group organizers for Bullying Enns, says.
As they made their way into Chase they were greeted by parents, bikers and community members alike, who came out to show their support.
Previously, the largest turnout they had for a pick-up had been 80 motorcycles, Phillips says.
“(The) whole town was excited,” he says, noting the waves and honks they received as they made their way through Chase.
Bullying Enns has been looking to create a division of their group in Kamloops, Phillips says, noting there had previously been a group in the area that sort of dwindled away.
Phillips is originally from Kamloops himself and believes the group could do a lot of good in the area. However, because it is in a different province, the group is working to complete the paperwork required for non-profit groups in B.C.
After Friday’s event, however, Phillips says there is a clear interest in a group being established in Kamloops, and someone has stepped forward who is willing to lead the local division. When the group is officially established, they will be able to make their way out to calls for support, anywhere in the province.
A number of the parents attending the event say they have experienced the same type of situations with their children while they attended Haldane, noting that the problem seems worse there than other schools.
Some of the parents said they had to resort to homeschooling due to concerns about bullying. Another says he started sending his child to a different school; making the long commute out of town seemed worth it in comparison to the bullying their child endured.
Phillips and Gustavson agree, the event was a huge success and Noor returned home Friday with a huge smile across her face as the last of the rumbling bikes rolled back out onto the highway for the long ride home.