Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker, Human Services

Pink Shirt Day, a stand against bullying


It is heartbreaking when we read about how bullying can sometimes lead to people taking their own lives. My heart sinks and I ask myself a one-word question, “Why?” Why does such cruelty exist? Why did it lead to this? I don’t know the victims personally, but I do feel some sort of defeat and it makes me wonder how we can prevent the various forms of bullying from having such tragic outcomes. I truly believe it starts with the words we choose to speak. Are they positive and influential or are they negative and distasteful?

The classroom

There have been times in my Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker program where I’ve had disagreements with classmates over team projects and assignments. Sometimes we don’t use our words because tension is high and we are acting on frustration. It is a sort of “I am right and you are wrong” scenario and it is just left like that.

But that’s the thing… a discussion or argument should never end with negative words and be left on uneven grounds. My advice for these situations is to always come back to the issue, find peaceful solutions, lean on positive words, confront the situation (not each other) and move forward without calamity. It is not always an easy thing to do but I suggest that we allow courage to lead us during these stumbling blocks. Trust me, this strategy eliminates those unnecessary moments of overthinking and allows us to continue sincere conversations with the person(s) we disagree with.

When we own and confess our fallouts and mistakes, we can be genuine advocates for anti-bullying because our words and actions align with the morals of compassion and understanding. This lead us to become concrete examples of unity to those observing us.

Hardened hearts

If I can magnify on a few things it is this: do not ever be afraid to be yourself. Never for once in your life ever believe that you are on your own during your most challenging days. We are all making some sort of trek towards something… and sometimes people don’t like that. Maybe that is one reason why some become bullies – they also want to be trekking but don’t know how. So, keep walking, be an example and show them how it’s done with grace.

When you’re done with all the uphills, bumps and sharp turns in one chapter of your life, turn around and reach out to those who need a little encouragement, even to those who may have made life a tad difficult for you. That’s how hardened hearts are changed, by doing the opposite of what they were expecting.

Stenberg College students wearing pink and sharing messages of love and inclusion on Campus at Pink Shirt Day.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided”. Message from Stenberg’s CMHAW cohort on Pink Shirt Day.

The Community Mental Health and Addictions cohort, along with many other Stenberg staff and students, wore pink on February 28 (Pink Shirt Day 2018) to take a stand against bullying. I firmly believe that when we speak words, they should be kind, uplifting, encouraging, inspiring, understanding, loving, comforting, humorous, and that our actions should lead people to truly believe with their whole hearts that they are valued. It is heartbreaking to know that there are people who do the opposite by using hurtful words and who try and tear other people down. By wearing pink and embedding positivity in our words and actions, even to those who commit these acts of bullying because love isn’t exclusive, we hope for the eradication of such behaviour. Time’s up!

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