Canadians from coast to coast will proudly sport pink today (Feb. 22) on a day of protest against bullying.
Pink is in vogue on Pink Shirt Day, and Sooke schools are already showing their anti-bulling spirit.
For the first time ever at at Edward Milne Community School, there will be a Live Different group, a non-profit organization, attending the school, presenting its message about empathy.
The presentation will feature live music and young speakers sharing their stories and driving home the message how everyone is connected when it comes to bullying.
The group encourages compassion and addresses the need to listen to each other, noted EMCS principal Pat Swinburnson.
“I believe this is a perfect introduction to Pink Shirt Day because attempting to increase empathy is an excellent way to help minimize bullying,” he said. Journey Middle School and other schools in Sooke are showing their support for Pink Shirt Day as well with special assemblies and presentations.
At Journey, whatever classroom wears the most pink wins a prize, and on its second flag pole, students and staff replace the B.C. flag with a pink flag that has been signed and honored by the students.
“We raise it up to proudly represent Journey,” said viceprincipal Glenn Bedard, adding that whoever wears pink gathers in the ampitheatre to take a massive photo.
It was in the schools themselves that Pink Shirt Day started gaining momentum.
Various jurisdictions in Canada celebrate anti-bullying days on different dates. The tradition of wearing pink shirts emerged in September 2007, after a Nova Scotia highschool student was targeted with homophobic insults for wearing a pink shirt to school.
Two Grade 12 students, Travis Price and David Shepherd, organized their schoolmates to wear pink in solidarity. After the protest spread to schools across Canada and around the world, Nova Scotia’s then-premier, Rodney MacDonald, proclaimed a provincewide Stand Up Against Bullying Day on the second Thursday in September.
In 2008, B.C. followed suit with its own provincial anti-bullying day in February. Pink Shirt Day has been observed ever since. Though some other provinces have their own official antibullying initiatives (Ontario has its own Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in November), many schools and organizations outside B.C. are observing Pink Shirt Day today as well.
The United Nations declared the official UN Anti-Bullying Day to be May 4, 2012, and this is the date celebrated in U.S. and British schools. Other pink-themed anti-bullying events are held on the second Wednesday in April, designated the International Day of Pink.