WATCH: Pink shirts were the fashion choice for many Canadians Wednesday as a symbol that bullying is not tolerated. That was certainly true at the BC legislature where more funding was announced to support a program to help stop the growing problem of cyberbullying. Luisa Alvarez reports.
A sea of pink took over the BC legislature for Pink Shirt Day Wednesday. Students from Reynolds Secondary, Northridge Elementary and Central Middle schools showed up and through song, dance and spoken word poetry spread the message to be kind.
“If we want real change, we have to learn to open our ears and hearts to love one another,” said Grade 11 student from Reynolds Secondary Chantel Dick Charleson performing spoken word.
Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 and has become a global movement to end bullying.
“There has been a fantastic focus in the BC school system and also elsewhere in stomping out bullying,” said Education Minister Rob Fleming.
Last year, the Ministry of Education rolled out an anonymous online reporting system for kids to report bullying. This year, Premier John Horgan announced an investment of $160,000 to expand the Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) program.
“So that we can go to more schools talk to more students and so the message of kindness, respect for those around us and tolerance of difference is a high priority as we go through school, we leave school, and enter the broader community,” said Horgan.
The money will provide over 190 online safety sessions to more than 19,000 students in 17 school districts across the province.
“We expect to be able to get in front of tens and thousands of students from grades 3-12 so there are different presentations for different age groups in both elementary, middle and high school settings,” said Fleming.
Isabella Laughey another student at Reynolds Secondary also addressed the crowd on the steps of the BC Legislature and bravely shared her experience being bullied.
“They thought that the teasing and laughing was harmless but it felt like it was a huge joke that everyone else was in on but me,” said Laughey.
A story she says is all too common.
“The more people understand that the more people hear it the more comfortable everyone will be sharing what they’ve gone through,” said Laughey.
Carol Todd has been an avid advocate to end bullying since her daughter Amanda Todd took her own life and sparked an international conversation about cyberbullying.
Todd says it’s important to keep talking about it especially now with technology becoming such a vital part of everyday life.
“I think there has been more conversation now about making sure that if you see something say something and tell someone because if you say something to someone something will be done and those conversations need to continue,” said Todd.