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Every year Alberta’s government recognizes the third Wednesday of February as Pink Shirt Day – a reminder of the impact simple and kind gestures can have on individuals and the whole community. Being kind doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as inviting someone to sit with your group at lunch, introducing yourself to the new person at work, sharing a toy at daycare, or choosing a game at recess everyone can participate in. It is any action that helps to create an inclusive environment where every person feels welcome and safe. This has the potential to make a tremendous impact.
14 years ago, two teenagers from Nova Scotia chose to be kind after witnessing a boy being bulied for wearing pink. Instead of staying quiet, these two bystanders handed out pink shirts at school to students and teachers to wear. This gesture sent a strong message – bullying will not be tolerated at their school. This is now recognized on an international stage, and the uptake of the message around Pink Shirt Day is no longer limited to schools.
Bullying can affect anyone, so it is important to be able to recognize bullying behaviours, and know what resources are available to support victims and bystanders. Resources like the 24-hour Bullying Helpline at 1-888-456-2323 are available if you, or someone you know, is being bullied. An online chat is also available 24/7 at Alberta.ca/BullyingChat.
We all have a responsibility to be kind to each other at work, home, school and in the community, and to stop bullying when we see it. This is why I am taking the opportunity today to emphasize the importance of the behaviours we choose every day. Each of our choices has the potential to make our province more inclusive. This is why the right choice is to be kind.
Visit the Pink Shirt Day page to learn about government resources, supports and services available to address and prevent bullying.
Jason Luan served as Minister of Community and Social Services from July 8, 2021 to October 24, 2022.