On 9 April, any student at Marc Garneau CI walking through the cafeteria could not have missed the huge and colourful “MGCI Day of Pink Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign” poster. Planned and organized by the Social Justice and Equity Committee, and spearheaded by Mr. Pearce, the committee’s staff advisor, MGCI’s Day of Pink was an effort by students to raise awareness about bullying and to collectively fight against it.
Every year, the second Wednesday of April marks the International Day of Pink, a day where people unite to celebrate diversity, and essentially, to celebrate who we are as humans and as individuals. It is a day when people of all ages stand together to raise awareness and fight against homophobic, transphobic and all other types of bullying.
Initially, this fight against bullying began in 2007 when two high school students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, from Cambridge, Nova Scotia, witnessed a ninth grader being bullied for wearing a pink T-shirt. As an act of support for the young boy, Shepherd and Price, along with their friends, handed out pink T-shirts to every boy in their school a few days later.
Their little act of solidarity towards and sympathy for a boy unknown to them has now spiraled into a worldwide cause against homophobic and transphobic bullying. Seven years have passed, and the importance of the issue has only increased since then.
Currently, the initiative is organized and led by Jer’s Vision, a Canadian organization in which youth volunteers provide anti-bullying and anti-discrimination programming, while continuing the tradition of wearing pink to show support.
At MGCI, the Social Justice and Equity Committee collaborated with Art Council to create a poster to act as a backdrop that people can stand in front of and take pictures to show their support. Additionally, the school had also set up an anti-bullying pledge tree in the galleria, where students came to write their names on hands and vow to stand up against bullying.
“It was a refreshing sight to see the Garneau walls be covered with small pink hands with the names of students taking the pledge to stand up against bullying. This is the kind of spirit and unity it’ll take to suppress bullies. No one is alone. Garneau has taken a firm stand against bullying,” said Muhammad Farooqui, a Grade 12 student and member of SAC.
Besides the pledge tree, members of the Social Justice and Equity Committee also created about 700 lifesavers with messages related to anti-bullying attached to them.
“I think it was really effective because the only way to stop bullying or prevent it is to work as a team to combat the issue. The people that all wore pink showed they were a part of this team,” said Maria Kashif, co-president of the Social Justice and Equity committee.
Arshiya Bawajr, a member of the Social Justice and Equity committee, felt very strongly about the sensitive topic of bullying. “We believe that this topic is very important and needs to be given more attention, and that is what we’re trying to do. We’re hoping that people come around and actually take in that there’s several forms of bullying and that there are always ways of standing up for other people, for yourself, or even for preventing yourself from becoming the bully,” she said.
Mr. Boreanaz, a new teacher, had a lot to say. “This day is very important for a couple of reasons. To begin with, bullying stands in the way of students’ education, and we need to do anything we can to try to prevent that. If showing students, the bullies and the bullied, that we will take a stand against bullying, hopefully we can discourage it, minimize it, and take advantage of the reason why this whole system exists – to provide education. As well, it helps to build a sense of community within the school, regardless of what the cause is,” he said.