Area students, educators, promote kindness
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
With the last Wednesday in February being designated Pink Shirt Day in Canada, area schools stepped up to show their support for the anti-bullying initiative. This year Pink Shirt Day fell on Feb. 23, and each school ran Pink Shirt Day in their own way, with much of the planning and implementation of activities left up to individual classroom teachers.
At Pelican Falls First Nations High School (PFFNHS), things looked
a bit different due to students learning remotely. As Darrin Head. Principal at PFFNHS explained, “Pelican Falls students continue to learn remotely. Since Early January, Pelican Falls staff have also been working remotely. As a result, we have no school wide activities planned for Pink Shirt Day. However, all Pelican Falls First Nations High School staff will be wearing their pink hoodies today (provided by NNEC) and all teachers are planning individual virtual class activities for Pink Shirt Day. These activities are designed to highlight both the history and importance of Pink Shirt Day to our students. As well, Pelican Falls First Nations High School’s Social Worker has reached out virtually to our student body promoting Pink Shirt Day and highlighting individual virtual class activities planned for today.”
At Sioux North High School (SNHS), Pink Shirt Day was combined with a week-long Be Kind campaign, during which classrooms were encouraged to promote both gratitude and kindness. As Darryl Tinney, SNHS Principal, explained, “SNHS and KPDSB were happy to promote the week as a Be Kind week/random act of kindness week. We also participated in Pink Shirt Day to promote anti-bullying. The next step is to move from celebrating this week and Pink Shirt Day to embedding these principles all day every day! It’s important to talk about kindness when we talk about bullying. Acts of kindness help students engage in more compassionate ways and appreciate the value of helping others. Through acts of kindness, students build more positive relationships.”
At Sioux Mountain Public School (SMPS), Pink Shirt Day activities were handled on a classroom-by-classroom basis. As Barbara van Diest, Vice-Principal at SMPS explained, “We have been focusing all month on Kindness as part of our Kindness initiative. It also connects to the Grandfather Teaching of Kindness, and our deliberate way of supporting students in anti-bullying messaging. All of the students and staff are inherently kind, thoughtful and inclusive. Placing a spotlight on kindness helps that shine through.”
Sacred Heart School (SHS) also recognized Pink Shirt Day on Feb 23, while the Red Ribbon Campaign, which is intended to raise awareness of the plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), was commemorated on Feb 22.
SHS Principal Emily Hamilton shared, “This has been an incredibly important week at Sacred Heart School. We participated in the Red Ribbon Campaign, a Treaty #3 Movement to stand in solidarity against violence toward Indigenous Women and Girls. We recognize the strong need for our students to build awareness, understanding, and support to end violence against Indigenous Women and Girls. #BreakTheSilence We all have a part to play. Our students participated in a Red Ribbon Workshop. We continue to collect non-perishables goods for the Hats On To Equality initiative for the month of February to support Indigenous Women and Children. The slogan from the Hats On To Equality campaign is very fitting for this week, which states, “When you learn to love yourself and others, the other 6 teachings will follow”. We continue to embrace the 7 grandfather teachings and Catholic Graduate Expectations to guide our students in knowing what a powerful impact we all can have on the world.”
Hamilton added that on Feb. 23, “Students and educators wore their pink shirts to visibly take a stand against bullying. As we know, Pink Shirt Day began in 2007, when two students witnessed homophobic slurs toward a student that came to school in a pink shirt. The next day, the two students chose to wear pink shirts themselves to take a stand. Instead of being a bystander, we want students to feel empowered to stand up and speak out about bullying. This day was a moment to see how many caring and kind people we have at Sacred Heart School. Bullying is a serious issue, and we need everyone’s support. We will continue to promote kindness and empathy every day. We proudly offer a leadership group for 2SLGBTQ+ students and allies to meet weekly. It is important that we continue the conversation, strengthening our school culture of inclusivity and belonging at SHS.”