Estevan residents will gather April 9 for the annual show of solidarity against bullying that is known as the Pink Shirt Day Walk.
Shannon Culy, a counsellor with the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division, said participants will gather in front of the Estevan Court House at 1:15 p.m. The walk will begin at 1:30. Participants will walk through downtown Estevan from the court house to 13th Avenue, and then return to the court house.
School students, community leaders, business owners and others will be involved.
“Last year we had over 1,000 people, and that grew from the previous year,” said Culy. “This will be our third year (for the walk in Estevan), and of course we would like to see lots more business and community members out there supporting our students.”
Bullying is a community-wide issue, she said. It draws a lot of attention when it happens in the schools, but it can also occur in the workplace, in the home and at community venues.
“The kids are excited to be at the walk, and it feels good for them to feel like there's a community behind them, supporting them, to say that 'This is important, not just to the schools, but this is important to the city of Estevan,'” said Culy.
Other events will be happening in the community from April 7 to 11 to raise awareness about issues associated with bullying.
Sacred Heart School in Estevan will host anti-bullying advocate Travis Price on April 10 at 1:15 p.m. Price was the person responsible for starting the Pink Shirt Day campaign in 2007.
At the time, Price was a high school student in Halifax. A peer was bullied for wearing a pink shirt, and Price decided to do something about it.
“Travis and his friend David (Shepherd) went out and bought a whole bunch of pink shirts, and got a bunch of the school kids to wear them the next day, and it's kind of taken off ever since,” said Culy.
She said that the focus in Holy Family extends beyond raising awareness about bullying, to encouraging local youth to stand up to bullies.
“We want them to find a way to stand up, to have the courage so that when they see something wrong going on, that they have a voice, or they're doing something about it,” said Culy.
The Canadian Red Cross is also a strong promoter of the Pink Shirt Day Walk, and the organization's outreach coordinator for southeast Saskatchewan, George Barker, said Estevan is a strong supporter of the walk.
“This is all about education to our children, in how to stand up to being bullied, and how to help out all people who are involved, whether they be those that do bully, those that are being bullied, and those that just stand around and watch,” Barker said.
Education about bullying can change minds, he said.
“We want to show respect and kindness,” said Barker.
The Red Cross has been selling t-shirts and hats in advance of the pink shirt walk, and Barker encouraged people to purchase the merchandise, and wear it during Estevan's Pink Shirt Walk.