A powerful moment at Queen’s Park on Wednesday took place when MPP for Toronto-St Paul’s Jill Andrew delivered a member statement about a 12-year-old boy who died by suicide in June.
“He was a permanent resident of Canada, having moved here from India with his single parent mom Durba, on March 8, 2018 — International Women’s Day,” said Andrew through tears.
“A day when we ironically acknowledge the strength and courage of women… I cannot think of a stronger more courageous woman.”
Durkba Mukherjee is calling for a provincial inquiry into bullying, after she said it may have been the cause of her son’s suicide.
Arka died on June 21, 2019 in midtown Toronto, just a week before the end of classes.
Nearly five months since his death, Mukherjee said she struggles to understand what led him to take his life and questions whether bullying played a factor in it.
“In the words of Arka’s mother, Durba, ‘Arka, in the last year or his life, was bullied over and over again in school because of his circumstances and his background, I came here for my son to have a chance to grow up in a more open and tolerant society,'” said Andrew.
In response to the member’s statement, Mukherjee told Global News she felt touched that her son is being remembered.
“When Ms. Jill Andrew mentioned that I landed in Canada on International Women’s Day, I burst into tears. There was a time I used to feel proud as a woman. Since my boy left me, I lost everything,” said Mukherjee.
“I am glad that she shared the message in the house. I hope other members will also feel the same for my son and do their bit to get my son justice that he deserves.
“And I hope they will ensure no other mother will ever have to go through this.”
Mukherjee said she has hired a lawyer, and friends have started a GoFundMe campaign called #Justice for Bullied Kids #Justice for Arka to help cover the legal costs.
She said her and her lawyer sent a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“Please, Mr. Premier do not allow the tragic death of Arka to go unnoticed. Let his death serve as a beacon to all those who have been, and in the future will be, affected as a result of bullying by constituting a full-blown public inquiry,” the letter reads.
At Queen’s Park, crying as she read her statement, Andrew added, “As one who was bullied mercilessly in school I still have privilege of standing here, Arka will never.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.