I am thrilled to be here for Pink Shirt Day, and I would like to thank MLA, Julie Green, Yellowknife Centre and MLA, Kevin OReilly, Frame Lake, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada for organizing today’s event on this important issue.
Bullying is a complex and serious issue that can have devastating effects on our children and youth. Bullying is unacceptable and we are one of the jurisdictions across Canada actively standing up to stop bullying.
I believe everyone here feels the same way. We must do everything we can to try to eliminate bullying in our schools.
We all know there are many forms bullying comes in: physical, verbal, emotional, and cyber-bullying. All of these leave children and youth alike feeling alone and threatened, and often that they have nowhere to turn.
There are so many more resources out there now than there were when we began to focus on creating Safe and Caring Schools plans, a Territorial School Code of Conduct, and highlighting the need to stand up and stop bullying in all NWT schools.
With thanks to the Members of the 17th Legislative Assembly, who called for anti-bullying legislation in the NWT, I am pleased to announce that new Safe and Caring Schools Regulations, including a Territorial School Code of Conduct, will come into force on September 1, 2016. These regulations set a standard of behaviour for NWT students, teachers and the school community.
This is an important piece of the ongoing work that reinforces our Government’s commitment to students and school communities that bullying is not acceptable, and every person in a school should feel safe and secure.
We hope that this legislation will help contribute to safe and stimulating learning environments.
You might notice that the Members of the Legislative Assembly are all wearing pink flowers today in support of Pink Shirt Day. This show of pink reflects that there is a lot of support to stand up and stop bullying – that if you are bullied, or if you know someone being bullied, you are not alone. There is help. I cannot stress this enough, especially in light of the lives that have been destroyed by bullying.
Last year, we awarded the first prizes for the Stand Up Stop Bullying NWT contest: sports equipment for schools, iPads, specially designed tee shirts, and gift cards. We were very pleased at the responses and submissions, and we will be launching another school contest soon. The amount of participation we saw was impressive, and shows that all of you, too, are standing up to stop bullying in your schools.
Bullying is not something that we want our students to put up with because it is a part of school, nor is it a rite of passage.
It can be difficult and scary for our young people to be the one to stand up by themselves to report bullying as they may get singled out. We want to help create safe environments for our students AND teachers where it is the norm to stand up against bullies, instead of bearing it alone or ignoring it.
And we are seeing change. Students across the NWT are standing up to stop bullying through rallies, songs, groups, discussions and lots of pink, like today’s event; we are seeing a grounds well of positive activity and behaviours. This generation of students is changing the game for the better.
As with everything we do, we rely on working together with all of you, as students, parents, teachers, and communities. We can all stand up together and stop bullying in NWT schools.