'If we all stand up it can stop': Pink Shirt Day hopes to end bullying
Published Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:31PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:54PM EST
As messages of hate seem to be ever present, Pink Shirt Day reminds Canadians of the importance of standing up for one another and fighting stereotypes.
Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 after a male Grade 9 student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.
Horrified by the bullying, two other students organized a protest, encouraging students to weak a pink shirt to support the boy.
Ten years later, people across the country are marking Pink Shirt Day.
University student Ashley Murphy shared her heartbreaking story with students at Moncrest School in Toronto.
Murphy was bullied throughout her life because she was born HIV positive -- and it wasn’t always just her peers who were mean.
“A few years ago a friend’s parent told them to give me plastic plates, cups and utensils when I visited,” she told the audience of captive students.
“I wasn’t invited to sleepovers as a kid; the neighbours wouldn’t let their kids,” she told CTV News Channel. “It was all the parents and the lack of education.”
The hashtags #PinkShirtDay, #bullyingawareness and #imaginenobullying were trending on Twitter as people also took to social media to share their stories and speak out.
One woman shared her story of being bullied from a young age, saying the only person who truly understood what she was going through at the time and who helped her get through the experience was her brother.
To have been bullied at school and by a few former coworkers, I say no to bullying #BullyingAwareness— Rachel Dumais (@rdumais78) February 22, 2017
One father expressed his frustration that he was being forced to take his daughter out of her school because she was being “cyber bullied and social alienated.”
There were many others who took the opportunity to express their gratitude for those in their life who supported them during the time they were being bullied, saying it was that compassion and kindness that helped them through the hard times.
I think everyone was bullied or bullied someone else at some point in their life. Compassion is key on both sides. #BullyingAwareness— Kristen Padayas (@KristenPadayas) February 22, 2017
And finally, there were many who urged those who witness bullying to speak out to help the victims.
I wish I knew then what I know about bullies. Things would have been a lot different. #BullyingAwareness— Friggin' Darth (@DarthAlexander9) February 22, 2017
Co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, Travis Price, is overwhelmed and humbled at how big the day has gotten.
“It’s incredible,” he told CTV News Channel, “to see how far this movement has truly spread because of one act of kindness. One random act of kindness changed the way the world looked at an issue.”
University of Toronto social work professor, Faye Mishna, believes that more needs to be done to stop and prevent bullying.
“We need to have other strategies that are happening throughout the year so it’s not just this day,” she told CTV News Channel, suggesting finding ways to make it easier for children to talk to adults.
Price commented that bullying prevention education is also important in the fight against bullying.
But the anti-bullying message is best put by grade eight students Claire and Rowan: “If we all stand up it can stop.”
With files from CTV Toronto’s Dana Levenson and CTV News Channel