An Open Letter to Torrence Collier

11 June 2014

Dearest Torrence,

We heard about what you have been going through at school and in the community where you live and are really sorry that you have had to deal with such horrible bullying.* The people who are calling you names and saying bad things about you and your skin colour are WRONG.  Please do NOT believe what they say!  We know it is hard to understand why people would be so mean, but remember that they do not define you.  YOU get to decide who you are and what kind of person you want to become. You have every right to be in whatever school, in whatever place you and your parents decide is best.  You have a right to feel safe wherever you are.

It makes us angry and sad that people have treated you so badly.  We know that it can be really frightening.  Most of us have had some experiences like that too, where someone picked on us because of our skin colour or because of something else about us that was different from them.  Many of us found it makes us feel better to talk to people we trust about it, and to keep telling people.  We think it was very brave of you and your mom to talk about your experiences on the news.

Some people in Canada still do not seem to know about Black people and do not understand that Black people have been doing great things in Canada for hundreds of years! And some people are so afraid that they seem to hate anyone who is different from them. This is a problem that THEY have and that they have to work on.


We want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  WE STAND WITH YOU and your parents.  Be strong Torrence, love and value yourself and do not let bullies tell you who you are.

With so much love and support,

Rosalind Hampton (biracial Black Canadian, mother, educator)
PhD Candidate at McGill University, Montreal
member of Community-University Talks and Students of Colour Montreal

Lerona-Dana Lewis (Black, Parent of 12 year-old son)
Phd Candidate at McGill University,
member of Community-University Talks and Students of Colour Montreal

Rachel Zellars (mama of Ade, Zora, and Sade)
PhD Candidate at McGill University, Montreal
member of Community-University Talks and Students of Colour Montreal

Cora-Lee Conway (Black Canadian)
PhD Student & Residence Hall Director at McGill University
member of Community-University Talks

Adrienne Carey Hurley (middle-aged white anarchist)
Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at McGill University

Mona Afshari (Canadian-Persian)
MA Art Education

Sabrina G. McHugh (Black Canadian)
MA Graduate of McGill University, Counselling Psychology

Alan Wong (Chinese-Canadian)
PhD, Concordia University
English Teacher, Vanier College

Joël Pedneault (gay white francophone living in Montreal, originally from Ottawa)

Alyssa Clutterbuck (biracial black Canada)
Law Student, McGill University (Montreal)

OmiSoore Dryden (Black Lesbian Canadian, Aunt to 6yr old nephew)
Professor, Thorneloe University (at Laurentian, Sudbury Ontario)

Jivetesh Chhatwal (Sikh Indo-Canadian)
Undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador

Eun-Ji Amy Kim (Korean-Canadian)
Ph.D Student, McGill University (Montreal)

Freda Guttman (white artist/activist in Montreal)

Darcel Bullen, MA (Bi-racial, Black Canadian)
JD Candidate 2015, Osgoode Hall Law School

Nydia Dauphin (Black and proud 😉 )

Neerusha Baurhoo (Brown/Mauritian – Canadian)
PhD Candidate, McGill University (Montreal, Quebec)

Sarah Mostafa-Kamel (Egyptian-French-Educator)
Masters Student, McGill University (Montreal, Quebec)

Michelle Hartman (white mother of Black bi-racial 7 year old)
Associate Professor, McGill University
member of Community-University Talks

Shanna Strauss (Tanzanian American working in Montreal)
Community worker

Fernanda Soler (Latina educator/activist)
PhD candidate, McGill University (Montreal, QC)

Jessica Soedirgo (Indonesian Canadian, Toronto)
PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Amanda Hartman (White aunt of Black bi-racial 7 year old)
Associate Director of Reading and Writing Project
Columbia University

Joanne St. Lewis
Assistant Professor
University of Ottawa, Common Law Section

Professor Carol Aylward (Retired)
Schulich School of Law (formerly Dalhousie Law School)

Chris Vaughn (Black Canadian father, it’s okay to feel angry.)

Mahdi M Hussein (Black Canadian)
JD Candidate 2016, Osgoode Hall Law School

Sasha Van’t Hul (Adopted Black American by White Parents)
Dance Educator and Yoga Instructor

Professor Adelle Blackett, McGill University, my 14 year old son, Jean-Richard & my 10 year old daughter, Baï Daisy

Robin Reid-Fraser (white queer woman from Whitehorse, Yukon)
Recent graduate, McGill University

Amber Gross (white activist from Montreal)
President, Association of McGill University Support Employees

Darryl Leroux (white educator – stay strong, you seem very brave)
Assistant Professor
Saint Mary’s University (Halifax

Marcia Malcolm ( Black, Jamaican, parent, educator)
PhD student at McGill University, Montreal
member of Community-University Talks and Students of Colour Montreal

Anne-Marie Livingstone (Montreal native)
PhD Candidate, Sociology
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Ted Rutland (white teacher and writer)
Assistant Professor, Concordia University, Montreal

Becca Yu
queer mixed chinese/white girl living in montreal

Lena Carla Palacios (queer Mexican-American/Chicana educator, activist, filmmaker)
PhD Candidate, McGill University, Montreal; Member of Students of Colour Montreal and Life After Life Collective

Sarah Malik (Punjabi-Kashmiri Muslim born and raised in Ontario; assaulted for being a person of colour the first time at age 5; strong, proud brown 29-year old living in Montreal)
Anti-racism and Cultural Diversity Advisor
McGill University

Vincia Herbert (Black Canadian)
Sending you love and strength, dear Torrence! ♥

Meara Brown (white healthcare worker)
Speech Language Pathologist
Langley, BC
I think you are so brave.  Be kind to yourself, you’re already an incredible person and nothing they say can take that strength away from you.

Shannon Cummings (white Canadian/American)
Geology Technician from New Hazelton B.C.

Chelsea Russell (white Canadian, lover of ALL our differences, parent, Firefighter, human being)
Whitby/Toronto, ON
It is scary when so many people can be this mean to you for just being you.  You are so brave for going back to school every day, especially when you are scared, to show them how wrong they are.  Don’t give up Torrence!  You are stronger than anyone I know!  I hope they learn to be as kind as you.

Corrin Peet
Prince George, BC

Hideki Kawashima
MFA student, Concordia University, Montreal

Abby Lippman, mother and grandmother, white activist, and Professor Emerita at McGill University –
sending big hugs and much love to you Torrence

Leila Bdeir, Arab Canadian and feminist activist

Gwen Bartleman, white butch queer woman, anti-racist activist, community worker
Sudbury, ON, the Corporation of Canada

Carole C. Tranchant
Professor, Université de Moncton, NB

Stefanie Johnston (white, 29 year female who wants to listen to all stories)
Community Worker, North Vancouver

Ricardo Lamour “Emrical”, artist, member of Kalmunity Vibe Collective (black haitian male, based in Montreal)

Nadia Bunyan
Mom of 3 boys, fashion designer
Montreal QC

Jon McPhedran Waitzer (30yo white guy working to be an anti-racist ally)
Director at Head & Hands (a youth support organization)

Odessa Thornhill
Mother of 3 children
Singer, Dancer, Poet
Naturopath & Doula

Kathleen Savoy
queer, white, female fashion designer
Montreal QC

Tracy Douce
Student at Concordia University
Member of an ethnically diverse family & godmother to three beautiful children of colour
Torrence when you said “I feel horrible about myself, and sometimes, I wonder if they’re right; If I am all those things that they call me.”
I just want to say…NO, you are not! Never believe the lies others try to feed you and remember, their racism and inability to see you for more than your skin colour reflects poorly on your peers and their environment; more so than it will ever reflect who you truly are.
Be strong and know that many are lifting you up spiritually.

Jai Nitai (MC/Producer) and Krystyna Szadkowska (Artist/Yoga Teacher)
Parents of 5 year old Radhika
Dear Torrence,
Know that you are not alone and that you a very important soul!  Much love and strength to you!

Andrea Gunraj
Toronto, ON

Juniper Belshaw
queer, white woman.
Fundraising & Development Coordinator
Head & Hands, Montreal
Sending you so much strength and love!

Lyndsay Baker
White Kenyan, mum of 2 little girls.
I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this Kiddo. You’re winning just by being you xxx

Chris Dahdah
Queer, Lebanese, living in Montreal

Tristan D. Lalla

Stéphane Martelly, Ph.D
Artist, Scholar, Haitian and Afro-Canadian mother of 2

Désirée Rochat
Haitian-Swiss-Montrealer, community educator

Rafaëlle Roy
Haitian artist and community educator, mother of two biracial children

Jillian Sudayan (Filipino born and raised in Montreal, Quebec)
Bachelor in Music Education, McGill university
Elementary Music Teacher with Lester B. Pearson School Board


*Articles about Torrence’s experiences in Westport:


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