Why we love Pink Shirt Day

The story behind David Shepherd and Travis Price's accidental anti-bullying activism warms our hearts
pink shirt day (© Jennifer Stapler - Dreamstime.com)


In schools and offices across Canada, today is Pink Shirt Day. Also known as Anti-Bullying Day, it is an event that has spread around the world (although not every country celebrates it on February 27). If you're not familiar with it, it goes like this: Everyone wears a pink shirt as a symbol of their stance against bullying.

But why pink? And how did this event get started?

The story actually originates in Nova Scotia. In honour of this homegrown day, we thought that it was a story well worth retelling.

Standing together

In September 2007 in the town of Berwick, NS, another school year was beginning. A Grade 9 student named Chuck McNeill came to the first day of school wearing a pink shirt. And throughout the day, he was bullied for it.

This caught the attention of fellow students David Shepherd and Travis Price, who had an idea. Together, they bought 50 pink shirts and distributed them among classmates. These students then all came to the school wearing pink, as a protest against the bullying. It made a real impact and the students felt proud that they had been able to make a mark.

But they didn't know how big a mark that they would leave.

Spreading cross-country

The story of this pink shirt protest quickly spread across the country. What a great idea, many thought. Maybe we should do this too ...

In 2008, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell announced that February 27 was going to be the province's Anti-Bullying Day. It quickly became a nation-wide event—Pink Shirt Day! And that was just the start.

In 2012, the United Nations named May 4 a global Anti-Bullying Day. And while the exact day differs from country to country, the actions of Shepherd and Price literally changed the actions of the world. Remarkable!

Dealing with bullying

Of course, bullying itself has not been erased. But with Pink Shirt Days happening as global events, there has probably never been as much awareness about the problem of bullying—and the power that we all have in ourselves to help stop it. People young and old are learning to recognize bullying when they see it, to stand up for those to need help, and to reach out for support if it is happening to them. Yes, a bunch of pink shirts helped do that!

So if you're one of those rocking a pink today, give yourself a pat on the back. In its own way, one shirt really can change the world.


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