James is a Grade 9 student from an Aboriginal community within a small city. Recently, some kids in his grade have started bullying him – calling him names that degrade his people and threatening to cut his hair off (James wears a ponytail). James has tried his hardest to ignore them as he has done many times in the past in similar situations. But it’s getting worse and he knows he will have to do something. He has heard from his grandparents and learned from his own observation that people from other communities will not necessarily understand or help people from his community. His teacher is nice but James doesn’t completely trust him.

James’ teacher notices that James has become quieter in class and that he is not doing as well in his school work. The teacher approaches James to talk to him about his grades, with the intention of gently trying to find out if something else is wrong. The first couple of times the teacher approaches, James is very withdrawn and quiet. The teacher respects his choice and continues to focus on school work in their discussions.

Eventually James opens up to his teacher and shares that he is being bullied. James’ teacher listens carefully (see Becoming an Ally/Listening) as he speaks of his rage at the humiliation he continues to endure and his fear of being hurt. The teacher encourages James to think of strategies he thinks will work, offers him feedback on his ideas, and helps him formulate an action plan. Together they practise the words James will say when he implements his plan (see Becoming an Ally/Problem-Solving). They also decide on a time to speak again to see how it all works out, and the teacher lets James know he will be speaking with the boys who have been bullying him. With the help of some friends, James is able to stop the bullying. He feels stronger and proud of the way he dealt with the situation.