Premier John Horgan and Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, have released the following statement to mark Pink Shirt Day:
“Today, on the 15th anniversary of Pink Shirt Day, we encourage everyone to join together and celebrate diversity, belonging and empowerment.
“This year’s theme of belonging and empowerment means no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like or what you believe in, we all have the right to be respected and accepted for our true authentic selves.
“The past two years have been filled with many challenges for us all. The resilience that students have shown to continue learning and participating as much as possible in regular school activities during this pandemic has been remarkable.
“We want students and all British Columbians to know that we stand with them as we all continue to navigate the waves of this pandemic and we recognize the mental strength it has taken to keep moving forward.
“That’s why it’s so incredibly important that today we stand together to celebrate Pink Shirt Day and stop to recognize the ways in which we can make a difference in the lives of those around us.
“Bullying happens in many forms – it can happen at school, sports, work or even at home. With much of our lives lived online, it can feel like bullying is unescapable for so many as it continues even when they’ve left work, the arena, home or their classroom for the day.
“We are committed to keep working with our education partners to provide students and staff with the support and resources they need to help dismantle bullying in all forms.
“We are grateful for the brave and remarkable efforts that people like Carol Todd have made over the years through the Amanda Todd Legacy Society. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of her daughter Amanda, who was bullied and died by suicide in 2012.
“Over the past 10 years, Carol has been a courageous, dedicated and selfless anti-bullying advocate, driven to help others who may have faced the same struggles that her daughter Amanda faced.
“The non-profit Amanda Todd Legacy Society continues to grow with a strong focus on prevention and awareness related to bullying and cyberbullying, online safety, exploitation and 'sextortion', with resources and education encouraging positivity, mental health and wellness, and digital safety.
“We are also thankful for partners such as ARC Foundation, who are dedicated to improving the lives of young British Columbians of all sexual orientations and gender identities. ARC is a recognized innovator in sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) inclusive education, a key pillar of the Erase (expect respect and a safe education) strategy. Their mission is to foster awareness, respect and capacity through SOGI-inclusive K-12 education so that children and youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live authentic lives.
“We are appreciative of everyone at ARC for their continued efforts as we work together to support youth throughout our province.
“On this day, and every day, we stand beside Carol Todd, ARC and our many other education and community partners, because every student deserves to feel safe and respected. We must continue to work together to create welcoming and inclusive schools for young British Columbians.
“Our children and youth deserve to grow up in a world where they are valued and celebrated as their true authentic selves.
“We encourage British Columbians to share their stories of diversity and inclusion, and inspirational messages of kindness and gratitude for Pink Shirt Day 2022 using the social media hashtags #PinkShirtDay and #erasebullying.”
A backgrounder follows for mental-health and safety resources for students throughout the province.