Pink Shirt Day Awareness And Its Impact on Immigrant Integration

Pink Shirt Day is one of the pleasant and purposeful celebrations that I have experienced for the first time in Canada.  I love pink but my support for this special day goes beyond that. 

I believe that awareness of Pink Shirt Day and what it stands for help in an immigrant’s effective integration into Canadian society.

In this post, I will talk about this celebration, the definition of bullying, the importance of bullying awareness to immigrants, how I support this campaign in my own little way, and how you can help support it as well.

What is Pink Shirt Day?

According to CBC, Pink Shirt Day is a day when people come together by wearing pink shirts to school or work to show their stance against bullying.    It was inspired by an act of kindness of two Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2007.  The students organized a protest to support a Grade 9 student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.  The idea has spread across Canada and around the world to become an anti-bullying day.

Watch one of the founders talk about Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day Co-Founder Talks About Its History and Mission

What is Bullying?

Red Cross Canada defines bullying as a form of aggression where there is a power imbalance: the person doing the bullying has power over the person being victimized.  Further, it states that bullying can take one of four forms: physical, verbal, social/relational, and cyberbullying.

Why is Bullying Awareness Important for Immigrants?

According to Prevnet, one such form of power arises from targeting another based on ethnic differences.

Immigrants who are victims of bullying may not speak up about their experiences for various reasons.  For example, newcomers may not know their rights.  They may not fully understand what bullying looks like in the context of their new country.  Also, they may harbor the fear of losing their job or camaraderie if they choose to speak against the perpetrator(s). 

Of course, the spectrum has another side.  Immigrants who are fortunate to get into a position of power would not want to be perceived as a bully.  There might be terms, habits, or actions that are perfectly acceptable in our country of origin but not in Canada. These are things that we are not always aware of, especially as newcomers.

Bullying awareness is also important to kids. In fact, it is even more important.

Here are some Canadian Bullying Statistics from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research:

  • 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis
  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying
Wearing My Pink Shirt
Wearing My Pink Shirt

How Do I Help Raise Awareness on Bullying, Harassment, and Discrimination?

Wear A Pink Shirt

Wearing a pink shirt is a no-brainer for me.  It is the easiest way for me to initiate conversations on bullying.

Help Educate People On What Bullying Is

I consider myself fortunate to work for a company that actively campaigns against bullying and support diversity.  At work, I helped educate our employees on what bullying is and the process of reporting related incidents.

Here’s one of the WorkSafeBC videos that I have shared during the campaign. 

WorksafeBC Bullying and Harassment Video

I am sure that many other companies have a similar program. Ask around and learn about how you can help. Better yet, ask if you can create one.

Learn About People and Cultures

Diversity is something that fascinates me.  Because of this, I attend various festivals and cultural events, sample ethnic dishes, and engage in conversations.

Facilitate Unconscious Bias Courses

Unconscious bias is prejudice or social stereotype about a thing, person, or group.  I have attended courses to enhance my awareness of my biases and reduce their impact on others.  I have also facilitated courses to help others in their journey towards self-discovery and create a more inclusive work environment.

One of the Numerous Presentations During the Surrey Fusion Festival
Initiate a Diversity Appreciation Event

I live in Surrey, British Columbia. According to the 2016 census, the city’s population is composed of 42% Caucasian, 33% South Asian, 8% Chinese, 6% Filipino, and 11% Other.  In my workplace, a good majority of us are immigrants.

I am happy to have the chance to organize a diversity appreciation day.  I wanted to start with a small and simple celebration.  So, I asked the participants to bring food from their heritage and describe it to the group.  We had a huge spread of delicious food from across the globe.  Colleagues who were born in Canada brought baked salmon.  It was a fun, educational, and satisfying event for all of us.

I am hoping that I can elevate the event further so we can appreciate other underrepresented minority groups.

How Can You Show Your Support?

  • Wear pink to show that you are taking a stand against bullying
  • Spread awareness through social media posts
  • Donate to the cause
  • Organize a fundraising campaign
  • Volunteer for anti-bullying organizations
  • Practice kindness, acceptance, and compassion

Please check out these websites for more details on how to help.

Learning about bullying issues and helping find a solution is part of a Canadian immigrant’s integration into society.  So, help curb bullying now. Participate in Pink Shirt Day!

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