On February 27th, 2019, promote kindness and anti-bullying awareness
Pink Shirt Day takes place on February 27th, 2019, across Canada. Promoting kindness, it is a day to raise awareness about anti-bullying and standing in solidarity with those who have been (or are) bullied by, wearing pink. The movement began in 2007 when two high school students in Nova Scotia handed out pink shirts in support of a boy who was bullied for wearing the colour. While the anti-bullying awareness campaign originated in Canada, Pink Shirt Day is now celebrated by many countries worldwide.
Bullying is the deliberate act of harming another person physically, verbally or emotionally, and involves the misuse of power. Bullying is usually not an isolated event, and has the potential to be repeated over time.
Bullying can even take place in the digital world. Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology like digital devices or the Internet to embarrass, harrass, threaten or make fun of someone—and it can happen to anyone. In fact, 1 in 5 young Canadians aged 15-29 are cyberbullied on the internet, mobile phones or social media.
[Pink Shirt Day] is much more than a national ‘spirit day’—it is a day to stand up for others and celebrate friendship.
Bullying has no place in Scouting; it goes against the Scouting Movement’s beliefs, values and code of conduct. Thanks to the support of volunteers and Scouters who are educated about bullying and bullying prevention, Scouting provides a safe and bully-free zone where youth can be themselves.
As Scouts, we promise to stand up against bullying. How? By seeking help from adults, like your Scouter, and keeping them informed if you or someone else is being bullied. Scouts stand together, and with a unified front we can speak up, offer help and prevent bullying when it happens around us. At Scouts Canada, we work hand in hand to teach youth how to stand up for people that are being bullied.
According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, bullying affects 1 in 3 adolescent students. Bullying—whether physical, emotional, mental or cyber, is NOT okay in Scouting, school, or elsewhere. Scouting is all about inclusion and friendship—a Scout should never bully but continue to help people in need and spread kindness.
When I was a 1st year Cub Scout with no experience and with major focus/attention issues, I was motivated by Scouters and other Cubs to participate actively, and I felt like I belonged.
Youth Supporting Pink Shirt Day
For Ontario-based Scout and Scouts Canada Youth Spokesperson Program (YSP) participant, Vivan B., bullying is a significant problem in Canadian schools, workplaces and online. In his experience, Scouting has provided an inclusive and encouraging environment.
“When I was a 1st year Cub Scout with no experience and with major focus/attention issues, I was motivated by Scouters and other Cubs to participate actively, and I felt like I belonged. For every step of the way, from Kub Kars to camping, there was a Scouter to support and motivate me,” Vivan shares.
Vivan asked other youth from his school and community to explain what Pink Shirt Day means to them. For Anika T., an 11-year-old karate black belt, joining Pink Shirt Day by wearing pink is a way to “protest bullying”. It shows that “no matter what gender a person is, pink (or any colour) can be worn by anyone.” It’s also a good reminder for people to speak out against bullying and learn how to address it.
For 5-year-old Daksh M., wearing pink for Pink Shirt Day is a way to, “Ask everyone to stop being a bully and be nice to each other.”
“I celebrate Pink Shirt Day every year because bullying is bad and because it hurts someone’s feelings,” adds 8-year-old Tarang B., “If you see someone bullying, then you should always tell a parent [or supervising adult].”
As a Central Regional Lead for the YSP Program and Scout, Saskatchewan-based Ana-Alexandra M. shares:
“Pink Shirt Day is much more than a national ‘spirit day’— it is a moment to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. It’s a day to stand up for others and celebrate friendship without the fear of being judged. I may not get bullied often, but I can empathize with the people who are. When someone—whether my friend or not—gets picked on, I do something about it. ”
Scouts is an inclusive culture because it is open to everyone. Every girl and boy from every background is accepted for who they are. That’s what makes Scouts so awesome.
For Ana-Alexandra, Scouting has been a place of inclusion. Having lived in various parts of Quebec, she attended Beaver Scouts with L’Association des Scouts du Canada. It wasn’t until she was of Cub Scout age that her parents decided to enroll her with Scouts Canada to develop her English language skills.
“The Cubs and Scouters in my Group were very inclusive, even though I could barely communicate with them. They helped me out when I didn’t understand something, and even went so far as to translate it for me,” Ana-Alexandra recalls, “That was my first taste of what it means to be part of the Scouting family, a place where bullying is not tolerated.”
Another Ontario-based YSP and Scout, Riley R., shared similar thoughts. “Pink Shirt Day is a day where everyone is treated equally. It’s a day where you are safe to express how you feel, and [to celebrate] being yourself without being criticized.”
With a final thought, Ontario-based YSP and Scout, Quinn M. concludes, “Scouts is an inclusive culture because it is open to everyone. Every girl and boy from every background is accepted for who they are. That’s what makes Scouts so awesome.”
Today, Pink Shirt Day is also celebrated in Australia, New Zealand, France, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, speak with a trusted adult like your teacher, Scouter or parents. You can also use kidshelpphone.ca to talk or text with a trained counselor for free. Take steps to prevent bullying with these Safe Scouting resources and learn how to be safe online.