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Nunavut schools get ready for Pink Shirt Day

Education minister encourages all Nunavummiut to take a stand against bullying
Students at Chesterfield Inlet’s Victor Sammurtok School wear pink shirts on Pink Shirt Day, to take a stand against bullying in February 2019. NNSL file photo

This year, Feb. 22 is Pink Shirt Day in Canada. A day to challenge bullying and to help inspire others to do the same.

Across Nunavut, schools are planning to take part in Pink Shirt Day, and Education Minister Pamela Gross welcomes all Nunavummiut to also take part.

“I am planning to wear a pink shirt and I encourage Nunavummiut to also wear a pink shirt. To show they won’t be tolerant of bullying anywhere and that they’re willing to take a stand against bullying,” she said.

Gross added bullying can take various forms – in-person, online, physical, social, psychological – and added they all must be discouraged and opposed.

“Inuit Qauimajatuqangit is all about respecting others in every relationship and caring for people,” she said, saying it is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of traditional Inuit knowledge.

“We feel everyone deserves to feel safe. Pink Shirt Day reminds us of who we are as a people.”

There are various resources for students and teachers to help educate people on bullying in schools. That includes the Ajunngittugut Pink Shirt Day resource guide, designed to help support student engagement and to build awareness against bullying.

“Activities in this resource guide can also help our students to start positive relationships, to speak up and stand together and stop bullying,” said Gross.

The department of education also worked with the Canadian Red Cross on its bullying prevention book guide, also available in schools. It gives an overview of bullying, what it is and isn’t as well as what forms it takes.

A newer resource for the department, according to Gross, is a pride guide, which is designed by youth, for youth to help those who are experiencing gender-based violence in schools.

“We have (also) developed, alongside our school operations and the Nunavut Teachers Association, our safe school committee. This committee is based on guidelines for school emergency preparedness and crisis response,” said Gross.

The committee also intended to help guide a preventative and proactive response to keeping the school environment safe for everyone.

The greatest way however to take a stand against bullying said Gross, is to be visible in your support and by raising awareness, taking part in Pink Shirt Day is one such way.

“I think the best way to address bullying in schools is to raise awareness,” said Gross. “But also equipping our school leaders, staff, students and our families with the tools that they need to nurture a safe and caring school.”

Pink Shirt Day originated in Berwick, NS, where in 2007 two Grade 12 students handed out 50 pink shirts after another Grade 9 student in Cambridge, NS was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on his first day. Since then Pink Shirt Day has spread across the nation with schools in every province and territory taking part.