St. Joan of Arc School students (L-R) Sarah Han, Maggie Powell, Julian Lester, Taryn Grolla, Brooke Zaseybida and Camila Munoz Diaz cheer on the first-ever BE BRAVE Anti-Bullying Game, a regular-season WHL tilt between the Calgary Hitmen and Brandon Wheat Kings, in Calgary, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. More than 8,000 students from Calgary and area were bussed to the morning game as part of Pink Shirt Day, enjoying concourse activities and special entertainment in addition to the regular-season game. Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network
Lyle Aspinall Lyle Aspinall / Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network
Each year for more than a decade, Canadians from all walks of life have donned pink on the last Wednesday of February to take a stand against bullying.The Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying movement started in 2007 after a Grade 9 student from a small town in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink T-shirt to school.As a show of support and acceptance, two older students purchased 50 pink tank tops and handed them out to male classmates the next day, and Pink Shirt Day was born.Deinera Exner-Cortens, assistant professor of social work at the University of Calgary, said initiatives such as this help bring awareness to greater issues of teaching how to support one another and positive relationship building.“Academic skills and relationship skills require the same thing: practice,” she said. “It’s not just a one-time thing but something that we need to be continually helping students build.”Exner-Cortens said rewarding individuality is one of the biggest positive outcomes of the project.“Allowing kids to be themselves is so important,” she said. “It can and should raise some really important conversations, such as why was this boy bullied, is this movement enough?”Exner-Cortens added she wants to see more specific policies in school and after-school settings to address bullying. Policies and funding from governments to support new and existing programs for kids are also vital to the campaign, she said.“Awareness is part of the equation but it’s not going to solve the problem of bullying.”“Anytime we can show support to children who are victimized is very important,” she said. “This initiative still has an impact and it’s great to have a day to show support, but we need to take that through to the other 364 days of the year.”On Wednesday, about 7,800 students from the public and Catholic school districts will be bused to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the Calgary Hitmen’s third-annual Be Brave Anti-Bullying game against the Swift Current Broncos, starting at 11 a.m.