Schools and local police forces raise awareness about bullying

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

In a recent conversation, someone described Pink Shirt Day as their favourite day of the year. This sparked an investigation.

Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia 2007, says St. Mary of the Lake principal Dan Gilmore. A boy went to school in a pink shirt. He was bullied. Two students bought pink 50 shirts at a secondhand store. They connected with their fellow students through social media. The next day, 500 students wore pink shirts to school. This became an international movement.

“When bullying behaviour leads to toxic stress, it can negatively impact a child’s developing brain and result in behavioural and social-emotional difficulties,” says alberta.ca. “Widespread bullying behaviour creates an environment of fear and hostility that negatively impacts the feelings, social experience and learning of all students.”

Slave Lake and area schools mark Pink Shirt Day every year.

This year, two provincial ministers attended St. Mary’s Pink Shirt Day virtually, Gilmore says. Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, and Minister of Children’s Services, Rebecca Schulz, met with the Grade 5 and 6 class. The ministers spoke about the importance of anti-bullying initiatives. St. Mary students told the ministers various ways they and the school prevent bullying.

“The students were very engaged and the feedback from the ministers on their efforts were very well received,” adds Gilmore.

Lakeshore Regional Police Service
Lakeshore Regional Police Service Crime Prevention Unit and Victim Services Unit gave out pink masks for Pink Shirt Day, says a LRPS news release. These were given out in Sawridge, Swan River, Driftpile Cree Nation, Sucker Creek First Nation and Kapawe’no First Nation.

What is bullying?
The Alberta government website says, “Bullying is a repeated and hostile or demeaning behaviour intended to cause harm, fear or distress, including psychological harm or harm to a person’s reputation. It often involves an imbalance of social or physical power.”

“Bullying behaviour is sometimes confused with conflict. Conflict is a disagreement about different beliefs, ideas, feelings or actions. It is a normal part of healthy relationships … Learning skills to resolve conflict appropriately is very important for building and maintaining positive relationships.

Payton B. explains something to Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, at St. Mary of the Lake School. Principal Dan Gilmore is in the back.
Photo courtesy of the school.

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