Students in Cree School Board schools marked February 27 by learning what it means to be kind. Whether helping one another or reaching out to a friend who is feeling blue, Pink Shirt Day at VMS Elementary in Mistissini was a day to highlight the importance of respect - a traditional Cree value.
Students have been meeting regularly in a large group to learn catchy songs, under the leadership of Ashley Mann-MacPherson.
"At first we weren't sure it would take off," she says. "But the kids just love it, and they even changed the words to our song to make it about Being Nice."
Mann-MacPherson, who is also vice-principal at the school, says bullying is a major problem not just in schools, but everywhere.
"These assemblies engage the youngest of our students in a positive, memorable activity that we can come back to with them when things go a little astray," she says, adding that she hopes students who are introduced to anti-bullying techniques at such a young age will grow into more caring, empathetic teenagers and adults.
Pink Shirt Day is marked in schools around the world. It was inspired by an anti-bullying fundraising movement in a small town in Nova Scotia. Over the month of February, and especially on the last Wednesday of the month, Pink Shirt Day aims to raise awareness of the dangers and new directions of bullying, as well as to raise funds to support programs that "foster children’s healthy self-esteem."