MCHS students are greeted by staff with welcoming signs Wednesday morning. – MCHS Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Be Kind was the slogan of this year’s Pink Shirt Day, which took place Feb. 27. The focus as in other years has been to raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying.
The movement began in 2007 as a way for two Nova Scotia students to support a fellow student bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Pink Shirt Day has grown over the past 12 years to become a national day of awareness about the impacts of bullying. Local schools and businesses took part in the initiative Wednesday.
Morinville News spoke to principals at Morinville Public Schoo, École Notre Dame, G. H. Primeau and Morinville Community High School about the importance of the campaign.
École Notre Dame Elementary School Principal Ryan O’Gorman said Pink Shirt Day is important at the school level as an opportunity for students to appreciate positive behaviour.
“They can recognize that they have the capacity to showcase kind, caring, welcoming behaviour to all,” O’Gorman said. “It is a chance for us to recognize that we don’t put up with the act of bullying and that schools should be safe environments where all are welcome. So when kids don their pink shirts, they are making a statement saying that they stand up for the rights and respect of others.”
At Georges H Primeau School, principal Allan Menduk appreciates the day for its ability to raise awareness around bullying issues that many students encounter.
“Whether it’s inside a school or out in the community – by bringing this awareness it gives them [the students] the skill set to report it to a trusted adult, should it be happening to them,” Menduk said.
The GHP principal said the school always encourages students to report incidents to an adult, either a parent or school staff, and in some cases, they are to follow a three-minute reporting rule.
Morinville Public School Principal Dan Requa said the school wants all of the students to feel safe.
“We are trying to create a caring learning environment, optimal for learning,” he said. “We just want every kid feeling safe in our building.”
Requa went on to say bullying is an issue that every school faces. He said he and his staff have an open environment where students feel like they can talk to an adult and get adults involved.
“We have a comprehensive school counselling plan. We have a lot of kids that are constantly checking in with adults. We try to pair adults with our kids are at risk students. We try to make sure they are connected really closely to an adult in the building so that they feel like they have someone to come talk to all the time and create that open environment.”
At Morinville Community High School students were also encouraged to wear pink as a symbol against bullying. Staff welcomed students when they arrived for school Wednesday morning with signs that read “You Matter” and “You’re Awesome.”
“It was so great to see so many students and staff participate in this worthy cause as everyone’s lives have been affected by bullying in some way,” said MCHS Principal Don Hinks. “While the day itself is a great reminder of the impact of bullying and why we need to get rid of it in our society, we all need to remind ourselves that while we have this wonderful day of awareness, each and every day we have to take it upon ourselves to stand up to bullying, keep it out of our school, the workplace and our society. In other words, Anti-Bullying Day needs to be every day and not just one day in the calendar year.”
The province runs a 24-hour Bullying Helpline at 1-888-456-2323 or
online at Alberta.ca/BullyingChat available daily from noon to 8 p.m.
For more information on bullying visit Alberta.ca/bullying.