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In the Beaufort Delta, Pink shirt day is all about community

RCMP Const. Dave Barnes keeps Justin Stewart in check during a pep-rally basketball game at East Three School as part of Pink Shirt Day last year. A wide variety of events throughout the week leading up to Feb. 23 are being held throughout the Beaufort Delta this year. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

Across the Beaufort Delta, schools are pulling out the stops for Pink Shirt Day.

A summary of some school events for the annual day of bullying awareness was provided by Beaufort Delta District Education Council (BDDEC).

“Pink Shirt day is significant as it was originally developed and organized by students,” said BDDEC superintendent Devin Roberts. “It is a true example of compassion and caring. The day raises awareness against bullying and shows students across Canada that acts of kindness can grow far beyond one moment in time.

“Be kind to everyone and speak out against bullying.”

In Paulatuk, Angik School is conducting anti-bullying activities in the lead up to the big day, which is typically held on the last Wednesday of February, but here in the Delta is being celebrated on Feb. 23. Teachers will provide activities and discussions on what constitutes as bullying and what bullying is not.

Students and staff at Angik School who don’t own their own pink shirts will be provided with one and a school photo will be taken. The school’s older students will read stories with younger ones to show solidarity, and local Elders will pay a visit to share traditional Inuit ways of conflict resolution. The Elders and high school students will prepare a feast to be shared with everyone.

Chief Paul Niditchie School in Tsiigehtchic is also providing pink shirts to students and staff, as well as hosting anti-bullying activities throughout the day. Activities focusing on enhancing the school community are also being planned.

“The Community of Learners is a framework that all of the schools in BDDEC engage with for creating safe, inclusive spaces, that focus on (speech) development and learning from and with students about their strengths, talents, gifts and interests,” said school health and wellness consultant Jacqui Currie. “The framework includes the students participating in circles, team-building activities and relationship programming to help them succeed as a collective community. An example of an activity that students would do in the Community of Learners is working together as a class to create a list of things that they value as a classroom community and developing a belief statement that they believe creates an inclusive environment for everyone to learn.

“Outside of the Community of Learners, all of the schools in BDDEC also have Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs. This year members from the Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic and Ulukhaktok GSA clubs have joined together to create a planning committee for the Inuvik Regional Pride event. They are taking on the role of creating the agenda and organizing the sessions.”

Inuvik’s East Three Elementary School is also planning community of learners activities, including a “W — walk away, I — ignore, T — talk it out, S — seek help” (WITS) story coupled with a lesson and a colouring contest. Events will accumulate into an assembly that will include more storytelling and a slideshow showcasing friendship.

“WITS is the anti-bullying program we work on with our students,” said East Three Elementary principal Chauna MacNeil. “The students are so great with the steps and it works well. It gives the students tools and strategies in their toolbox for when they are older. We have several WITS books and lessons the classes do each “WITS Wednesdays.”