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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Support in Indian Country Growing for 'Anti-Bullying Pink Shirt Day' on February 26
by Vincent Schilling - Indian Country Today Media Network
credits: photos courtesy of Native Northwest

On Wednesday, February 26, students, teachers and notable figures all over the world will promote the anti-bullying campaign "Pink Shirt Day." The day is commemorated by anti-bullying advocates who will wear pink shirts to promote awareness about bullying in school and the effects of bullying on children in today's society.

The campaign, which was started in 2007 by two students in Nova Scotia who sought to protect a fellow classmate, is now garnering support from Indian country, particularly by Fashion Designer Jill Setah and the design company Native Northwest.

In Setah's online blog First Nation's Fashions, she encourages her fans to don pink t-shirts Wednesday in honor of Pink Shirt Day, a cause she backs for personal reasons. "As a First Nations Woman I was bullied in elementary school for being First Nations. I would cry every day in class as the teacher would do nothing," she wrote to Indian Country Today Media Network via email.

"As a First Nations designer, my kids and I are making our own pink shirts for Pink Shirt Day," she added.

On February 14, 2014, Native Northwest a three-decades-old company that creates art by First Nations and Native American artists, debuted their version of a ‘Pink Shirt Day' t-shirt.

Haida artist Andrew Williams designed the t-shirts emblazoned with a Haida design and the word RESPECT. Money raised will go to aboriginal women's shelters for abused women and for family events at Friendship Centres, Native Northwest's website states. The shirts are available online and retail for copy5 + shipping, or you can buy them in person at 1644 West 75th in Vancouver.

Presently, the largest bastion of support comes from Canada's CKNW 980 AM News radio station which mans the website and promotes the Pink Shirt Day campaign. According to the site, "Last year over 160,000 people committed on Facebook to wear pink and help stop bullying."

"Boys and Girls Clubs proudly participate in Pink Shirt Day because it promotes awareness, understanding and openness about the problem and a shared commitment to a solution. BGCGV relies heavily on community support to deliver our daily Club programs. Supporting Pink Shirt Day supports everyone who has experienced bullying as well as Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver's anti-bullying programs."

Setah expressed the message she and her children hope to share:

"I want my kids to learn to stand up for those who are not strong enough to speak for themselves. I want my kids to have enough confidence to not care what others think of them, I also want them to always LOVE, Always have RESPECT for themselves and others, Always have COURAGE, Always have HONESTY, Always have WISDOM, Always have HUMILITY and most of all ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH!"

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