The New Black
On Feb. 25, 2011, Cherylynn Downer, Communications and Community Relations Coordinator in Churchill Falls, looked across the gymnasium at E.G. Lambert School at a sea of pink. She snapped a couple photos as all the students shouted, "E.G. Lambert stands up!"
Over 5400 students and staff in schools across Labrador wore pink shirts on International Stand Up Day to show their commitment to ending youth violence and working together to foster safe, respectful schools and communities.
Violence Prevention Labrador coordinated this campaign, sponsored by Nalcor Energy, to bring attention to the role of bystanders. When peers step in, bullying will often stop within 10 seconds. Doing nothing and remaining on the sidelines sends a message that violence is okay.
"Being a part of Stand Up Day and witnessing an entire school come together in support of such an important message was inspiring," said Cherylynn. "I'm proud to be a part of an organization like Nalcor that recognizes the value of such partnerships."
"Violence is everyone's responsibility," says Carmen Hancock, Executive Director of Violence Prevention Labrador. "The goal of this campaign is to encourage youth to become a part of the solution to end youth violence, and to encourage commitment from adults to listen and act when youth come forward with concerns about bullying."
Distributing 5400 t-shirts across Labrador was no small feat for the Nalcor and Hydro employees that helped make it happen. Evadna Moores, Administrative Assistant with Nalcor's New Business Development department and co-op students Ashley Rice and Leslie McDonald sorted through every box of shirts to ensure each school received the correct sizes and amounts.
"It was tedious work, but we were happy to help an initiative that brought students together as a group to stand up to bullying," said Evadna.
Boxes of shirts were shipped to Hydro offices in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wabush, where office administrators April Pike and Corina Ralph worked with the RCMP and RNC in both communities to ensure the shirts were delivered to schools across Labrador. April and Corina then had the opportunity to participate in Stand Up Day themselves and see how the students reacted to Pink Shirt Day.
"I am so proud to have participated in the Stand Up to Bullying campaign in Labrador West," said Corina. "It was inspiring to be part of a 'Sea of Pink.' We are at a time when we cannot ridicule people for their differences, but rather embrace them for their originality." April was also proud to participate in Stand Up Day. "I had a great time participating in Stand Up Day activities," said April. "As a mother of two girls, I have witnessed firsthand the effects of bullying. It is heartwarming to have been a part of this initiative, to help teach children how to stand up to bullies and how to help themselves and others." Gilbert Bennett, Vice President, Nalcor Energy Lower Churchill Project spoke to students at Peacock Primary in Happy Valley-Goose Bay about the importance of standing up to bullying. "Nalcor Energy is proud to partner with Violence Prevention Labrador to bring Stand Up Day to students and staff across Labrador," said Gilbert. "One of our core values at Nalcor is respect and dignity, which to us means appreciating the individuality of others and showing support. It's very encouraging to be part of a larger community effort to promote respect and help put an end to violence."