It was a sea of pink at schools in the West Shore as students and staff donned their brightest in a show of support against bullying.
At Millstream elementary vice principal Mark Kaercher had to undergo what for him is the ultimate shame, wearing a Canucks jersey, after students hit a fundraising goal.
A diehard Detroit Red Wings fan, the only part Kaercher, objected to was the pink jersey’s association with the Canucks.
Kaercher made a deal with the students that if they could raise $250 he would wear the jersey and dye his hair pink.
For every $50 over that he would wear the jersey for another day. Students and staff raised a total of $400 for four days Kaercher has to spend in Canucks Nation. The money will go towards bringing in a motivational speaker on the topic of bullying later in the school year.
While bullying does inevitably happen in the school, Kaercher said that the students have done a great job of rallying behind the Pink Shirt Day events.
The school’s Boys and Girls Club also used the day to talk to students about bullying and tactics for dealing with it. Kaercher said the goal is to teach students that bullying is never okay and that they have the ability to do something about it, either by seeking help or speaking up.
“One time is too many,” Kaercher said, “and we want to empower our kids to understand that they can collectively say ‘no, it’s not OK.’”
At an assembly, the students screeched and howled as principal Windy Beadall used spray dye to turn Kaercher’s hair pink. Grade 6 student Jena Janmohamed said that all the students have been excited about the event and the message it sends.
“Everybody’s unique in their own way, they’re all different. And just because they’re different you shouldn’t bully them,” Janmohamed said. “You shouldn’t really make fun of people just because out what they’re wearing or doing.”
West Shore RCMP also embraced Pink Shirt Day by dressing up a life-size buffalo, the RCMP’s symbol, and a miniature buffalo in pink shirts outside of the detachment.
Const. Cole Brewer said RCMP school liaison officers are constantly involved in anti-bullying initiatives.
Pink Shirt Day gives police a chance to remind everyone about the harm of bullying and to hopefully stop problems that can lead to antisocial behaviour in adulthood, he said.
“If we can instill that message at a young age, ultimately we’ll produce less calls for service with adults,” Brewer said. “It just creates a more positive, supportive environment.”