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Anti-bullying football game honours teen fatally stabbed at Hamilton high school
TORONTO – An anti-bullying football game honoured a 14-year-old boy who was stabbed to death just outside of his Hamilton, Ont. high school while with his mother.
Those attending the game were asked to donate “what you can” and wear purple – Devan Selvey’s favourite colour.
“We all tried to come together as a team,” one of the football players, Owen Hinsperger, said following Thursday night's game.
“We got the community out here as much as we could and it was just a team effort and I’m glad we got the ‘w’ for the kid.”
Another player said it was nice to see everyone at the game, including the opposing team, in attendance “for the same reason.”
“We made this a good tribute to Devan,” Nick Prevost said.
“I think it brought the community together. I think it’s something everybody can enjoy, there were a bunch of raffles people could win, a lot of big donations. The whole community came together to watch something and then also help the family in this difficult time.”
Police called to school Monday afternoon
At around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, emergency crews were called to Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, located near Parkdale Avenue South and Main Street East, for reports of a violent incident happening just outside.
Just before, the teenage victim’s mother said her son had called her to the school because a group of teenagers was bothering him. She said he had been a victim of bullying for quite some time and the issue had been brought forward to officials at the school.
“He missed a lot of class, he would go for some classes and then call me and I’d go pick him up or sometimes he just wouldn’t go, he just refused,” she said.
On that afternoon, Shari-Ann Sullivan Selvey said she ran over to the school to help her son before her life fell apart.
“He had a beautiful soul,” she said. “He protected everybody. He stood up to everything that was wrong. He was just a very passionate kid.”
Shari-Ann Sullivan Selvey was next to her teenage son as he was attacked, and said she doesn’t close her eyes anymore in fear of reliving those tragic moments.
“Every time I close my eyes it’s there – I don’t close my eyes. If I don’t close my eyes then I can’t relive it,” she said.
“Everyone failed my son. I failed my son. I tried to but I couldn’t get to him in time.”
Teens facing murder charges
Two teenagers, an 18-year-old male and a 14-year-old male, have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the investigation.
The identity of those charged in the case cannot be released due to a publication ban and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Hamilton police officers said they are looking into bullying as a factor in the investigation.
“That part of the investigation is growing,” Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “We will continue to probe the bullying concerns.”
Bereziuk said “police will continue to work with Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the director of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board confirmed that incidents of bullying were reported to the school administration.
“We’re still in shock as a community and as a school board. Like everyone, we’re trying to make sense of what happened. We’re looking to understand the motive, as is our community,” Manny Figueiredo said. “At this time, we continue to cooperate with the police investigation.”
Ontario’s education minister said on Thursday that he is looking into “what can be done better” in the future.
“I will ask for a rigorous investigation and where the gaps exist so there are lessons learned to ensure no child is left behind as a consequence of a system that is not improving the lives of young people and that is the obligation I have to his (Selvey’s) mother and to all parents in the province of Ontario,” Stephen Lecce said.
“My expectation is that when a principal or vice-principal or administrator is cognisant of a child feeling isolated or harmed or victimized by peers or by an adult that there is action taken.”
Leece said he will work to implement “new intervention policies and additional resources” moving forward.
Community mourns Selvey’s death
Ahead of the football game honouring the murdered teen, a vigil was held on Wednesday evening at the Hamilton high school.
Community members joined family and friends of Selvey holding candles and signs reading sentiments such as “you will be missed Devan” and “bullying stops here.”
Shari-Ann Sullivan Selvey was in attendance at the vigil and was seen being consoled by other members of the family.
The honouring of the teenager’s life continued at the football game against Sherwood Secondary School at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School at 7 p.m.
“We are going to dedicate the game to his family and we are going to wear our school colours and I know that the boy’s favourite colour was purple and so we are going to wear the school colours and purple to dedicate it to him,” football coach Kevin Harrison said on Wednesday.
“It’s been such a tragedy for the school for every student, every teacher, administrators as well, and parent. I can’t imagine the hurt, the travesty, the parents and the friends of the young boy are going through.”
One of the players said the team and its coaches decided it was important to play Thursday night “because we need to show the community how strong we are.”
“We need to be strong for the community and for Devan’s family.”
Donations received at the game will go towards funeral expenses.
“All proceeds from the game are going to go towards Devan’s funeral to give him a send-off and what he deserves,” a football player said.
Selvey will be laid to rest on Saturday afternoon in Hamilton.