On the last Wednesday of February, over 800 students, teachers, and staff from all schools swarmed downtown Vanderhoof in pink, dancing to Canadian artist Shawn Mendes’ song “Believe” for the nation-wide annual campaign against bullying on Feb. 24.
Marching down Burrard Avenue at noon, the student procession was led by Principal Libby Hart of W. L. McLeod Elementary, Sgt. Svend Nielsen from the Vanderhoof RCMP, Mayor Gerry Thiessen of Vanderhoof, and Superintendent Charlene Seguin from Nechako Lakes school district.
Community members of all ages and agencies, including the Nechako Valley Community Services, dressed in pink for the event to support anti-bullying.
Along with speeches by community leaders at the event, Nechako Valley Secondary student Liam Moore also spoke at the event.
“I believe in the power of equality,” Moore said. “I’ve got my unique style, staying true to myself…it’s a shame people can’t, or won’t, stand up.”
He thinks that self-expression is what younger students need to focus on to fight bullying.
“Love who you are,” he said. “Everyone is unique.”
This year, the event was more than a one-day campaign as students and teachers practised choreography for the flash mob, and parents created for display on storefronts in downtown Vanderhoof neon pink “I Believe” posters, where members of the community contributed their personal ideas and beliefs.
Post-Pink Shirt Day check-in from teacher and students of W. L. McLeod Elementary:
Mrs. Kim Worthington
Feb. 24, Pink Shirt Day in Vanderhoof, exemplified the sincerest form of community. Vanderhoof, we are an amazing community. There are many races and different faces, and we share this common spirit of goodwill and promise.
Thank you for showing the youngest of our town the truest sense of uniting for kindness and caring, and, of course, for believing!
Abigail Stewart, Grade 6
It was cool to have the whole community there for a great cause, and seeing what people believe in.
Because bullying is not okay; it’s preventable, just needs to say no.
In Grade 4, I was called “Sasquatch” because my hair was darker and I had more hair than others.
Older kids were staring at my arms and legs.
I believe in peace, equality, and friendship.
Seth Habsburg, Grade 5
Lots of people have joined in and showed their support, parents as well.
Everybody does [bullying] because they are being bullied and they pass it on, that’s the problem.
I believe in unity and friendship, and I believe in everyone. Anyone can do anything.
Izzy Racher, Grade 5
We got all these cameras in our faces.
There were lots of support for people who have been or haven’t been bullied.
Even high school students took their time to come; it shows that they care as well.
It’s a good idea to have the public join us.
[On bullying:] don’t be a bystander.
They bully someone else to pass on the anger.
I believe in no bullying and standing up for bullying.
Eric Anderson, Grade 5
Some of the event was a big mashup, with some kids jumping one way and others jumping the other way; music was a bit muffled.
I really enjoyed it personally. The atmosphere was incredible; it was basically a pink ocean. All the banners that the parents had made were very well done.
I believe in everything.