Elsie Morden, a motivational speaker, singer, and songwriter, offers this advice to other young people who have experienced bullying. Don’t let other people pull you down, and keep asking for support if you need it until you do.
About two and a half years ago, Morden — an honorary Rotarian with the Mud Creek Rotary Club in Wolfville — moved from Manitoba to Nova Scotia. Before recently relocating to Halifax, she lived in Port Williams and said that Nova Scotians have shown “absolutely fantastic” support for her music and message.
Morden, who is now 23 years old, recalled that when she was younger, she travelled around a lot and was frequently the new girl.
According to Morden, “I always felt like an outsider, I always fought to fit in, and I also experienced a lot of bullying.”
She was frequently excluded from activities, subjected to abuse, and even made to eat sand. Her naturally curly hair was made fun of by other youngsters, who referred to her as “the mop.” She started to straighten her hair every day since she felt so insecure about it.
She received an invitation to a sleepover one day. Morden was thrilled to feel accepted at last. The following morning, she found that the other females had completely shaved off all of her hair.
I still don’t know who did it, so I made the assumption that they were all complicit, according to Morden.
After that, she sorts of became invisible. Morden preferred not to converse with others or have others converse with her. Morden adopted the attitude that things would improve and she would make a lot of friends at the start of her Grade 9 year after switching schools once more.
I just tried so hard to impress everyone, and I wanted everyone to like me, and I just wanted to fit in and be popular, so I just became this version of me that wasn’t me, she added.
Morden claimed that at this point, events started to snowball. She was dealing with sadness and an anxiety problem, but she didn’t know why.
Morden started purposefully performing poorly on examinations and tasks because her fellow students didn’t recognize her great scores. If the boys spoke to her, the other girls would become irritated. She was assaulted in the face by a girl she didn’t even know when she was in grade 11 as a result of gossip about Morden. She had a front tooth knocked out of place.
This acted as a turning point, causing Morden to realize she needed to change her life. She eventually revealed what was going on to her family, despite how difficult it was for her.
Turning a Negative into a Positive
Morden reasoned that there must be a lot younger kids out there who are experiencing bullying in ways that leave them feeling isolated, hurt, and misunderstood. She desired to assist them and demonstrate to them that they were not alone.
She discovered that music provided her with both a healthy release and an escape. Even though she had no intention of becoming a songwriter, she started writing songs about her experiences. She made contact with Manitoban schools in 2012 and started giving musical presentations with an anti-bullying message.
Morden recognized right away that she was having a positive effect and that she needed to keep doing this. Students informed her she had inspired them, and she learned from them. Others claimed that her talk caused them to rethink their positions because they had no idea how damaging bullying is.
For the balance of her Grade 12 year, Morden self-taught at home. She put forth a valiant effort and earned the Governor General’s Award. After graduating, she continued to spread her message in classrooms all around Manitoba before expanding her tour to include other countries. Currently, she has visited 600 schools in Canada.
The No Time for That Anti-Bullying Society, which Morden formed and is a registered Canadian charity, is still expanding its audience and influence. Her objective is to have the most impact possible. Her most recent tour, which took place this past fall, was the biggest; it spanned 14 weeks and 100 schools in all 10 provinces. At the CCMA’s in Hamilton, Ontario, everything began.
Although Morden couldn’t squeeze Middleton Regional High School and Kingston’s Pine Ridge Middle School into the fall tour, she didn’t want to miss them. On January 23, Pine Ridge’s Diversity Day, she spoke at these schools. The two performances were sponsored by the Middleton RBC branch, which also awarded pupils with prizes.
Being a Role Model
Hearing how other people have embraced her message and run with it, according to her, is the element of the anti-bullying tours that strikes a chord with her the most. Morden aspires to be the best leader and role model for anti-bullying.
It is “wonderful” to know that she has encouraged and inspired other young people to pursue their aspirations. Knowing that she has contributed to others’ ability to transform adversity into opportunity and emerge as leaders in their own right may be the most satisfying thing for her. The resultant ripples are “amazing.”
Morden stated, “I don’t listen to them anymore, I don’t let them bother me because I have no time for that. Anytime someone tries to tear me down, tells me I can’t do something, or is disrespectful or mean to me in any way.
Morden has recorded a full-length, self-titled album because she wants people to get to know her as a person and an artist. She co-produced the album and co-wrote all 10 of the tracks. She calls it “100% Canadian made.” She is presently organizing her upcoming school visit.
A love affair with Nova Scotia
As part of the “No Time for That” project in 2016, Morden travelled to numerous Atlantic Canadian schools and attended the CCMAs in Halifax. Morden claimed that when her father and two younger sisters came along to help, they all fell in love with Nova Scotia.
She remarked, “My music and the charity here received such a fantastic response.
Her two sisters ultimately committed to studying at local universities, one at Dalhousie and the other at Acadia. Her father, who has experience in agriculture, was enthused by the Annapolis Valley’s potential. In the end, Morden’s parents relocated to a farm outside of Middleton and are now launching an organic heirloom seed company with a concentration on garlic.
It was wonderful to bring the tour to a school where Morden has such a personal connection, as both of her parents are substitute teachers, and her mother used to teach at Pine Ridge Middle School.