Pink Shirt Day- What is it? Where and when did it originate? When is it?
This February 26th, Canada will be celebrating it’s 13th annual Pink Shirt Day. In Canada, Pink Shirt Day falls on the last Wednesday of every February, while the International Day of Pink is on April 8th of this year and shares the same backbone and concepts represented by Canada’s own day of recognition.
So, some of you may be wondering…what is Pink Shirt Day?
Pink shirt day is a day of solidarity in which all people wear something pink in support of the fight against bullying, discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny across the globe. A fight that has become increasingly difficult as it continues to permeate our schools, homes, places of work and most relentlessly: on social media.
The idea behind a group of people wearing pink is not only for individuals to express that they too have been victims of bullying, but also to speak to those victims who are currently dealing with any bullying and are too afraid to speak up or ask for help. The shirts show these victims that they are not alone; it shows that there are people that are there to talk to, safe places to go and speak and people that understand what they are going through and want to help them. Most importantly, it helps to eliminate that feeling in a victim like they are “the only person being picked on”, or that something is wrong with them individually. When they see that sea of pink shirts surrounding them, it opens their eyes to the amount of support around them and hopefully will encourage them to step forward and seek help.
The movement all began back in 2007 in a small-town high school in Nova Scotia. Seniors at the time, David Shepherd and Travis Price were having an average day at school when they suddenly caught wind of a new transfer student, a junior in grade 9, that was being teased, bullied, and ridiculed simply for wearing a pink shirt. Empathetic and embarrassed of their fellow schoolmates’ behaviours, David and Travis went home that day with a mission to make sure something would be done about the bullying and discrimination taking place at their school. They weren’t exactly sure how, but they began brainstorming on some ways they could take a stand against the injustices they were made aware of that day.
Then, the idea came to them. If these bullies were making fun of this younger student for wearing pink and being different, then if everyone were to wear pink the bullies would then have to pick on everyone! If they were to wear pink in solidarity with this new transfer student and try to get as many other students behind them to support their stance, the bullies would then become powerless. After all, they can’t tease everyone for wearing pink!
The following day, the two seniors raided the town for anything and everything pink, buying as many articles of pink clothing that they could. They created a page on Facebook to try and spread awareness (and to recruit fellow pink-wearers) and planned their attack for the following day. To their surprise, almost the entire school stood behind their cause as they showed up to a sea of pink, with almost every student participating the next day. From there, the movement only continued to catch like wildfire- spreading throughout the nation and, before too long, across the whole world.
Within a week, all the schools throughout Nova Scotia were wearing pink to stand in unity against bullying. A week following that, it had spread across Canada and within a month’s time, it had become a global movement- everyone was taking a part in the campaign for anti-bullying.
By 2009 and 2010, a lady by the name of Anne from Nelson, BC had caught wind of the Pink Shirt Day movement and decided that she wanted to be a part of the cause. Anne owned a business in Nelson called Annie’s Boutique and through her store purchased and made hundreds of pink shirts to be distributed to local schools in the area. All students participated in the Pink Shirt Day movement thanks to Anne and the cause only picked up more momentum. From 2011 and the years following since then, Anne was able to expand her shirt distribution to more schools in further areas thanks to the generosity of sponsors and fundraisers.
Annie’s Boutique closed in 2014, but a society was formed to carry on the mission and goals of Pink Shirt Day and its heart beats stronger and stronger every day! Now recognized globally (some countries celebrate on different days), you too can become a part of the fight against bullying. Go a step further than purchasing a pink shirt from their website and become a part of the organization!
For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.pinkshirtday.ca
Speak up…Stand up…Stop bullying!