On February 22nd, 2018, 12 Community Safety Initiative partnered with 14 East Calgary agencies to host a free to attend youth event focused on Anti-Bullying with the theme Kindness Has No Filter in advance of Pink Shirt Day the following week. The event was hosted at Evergreen Community Spaces (1709-8 Avenue NE). This Anti-Bullying Event offered diverse opportunities for the youth to consider bullying and its negative impact on their lives and on their peers. Our partners for this event were Antyx Community Arts, Aspen Family Services and Community Network, Awo Taan Healing Lodge, Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY), Hull Services, Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, City of Calgary, Globalfest, John Howard Society, Centre for Newcomers, Cornerstone Youth Centre, Calgary Police Service, and Mount Royal University with generous funding from The Calgary Foundation.
Our event featured some honourable guests to get it started: Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, and Elder Hal Eagle Tail. Hal Eagle Tail opened with a prayer and song, sharing with us wisdom that had been passed down from generations and blessed our event and the youth in attendance. The Mayor shared with us his personal connection to East Calgary and what it was like for him growing up here and why bullying is such an important issue. Having these two important guests attend and open our event was a very special experience for the youth.
In addition to these presentations in Evergreen’s Oak Theatre by our guests, we offered different breakout sessions they could participate in to explore bullying through creative and interesting angles. Our goal was to engage the youth to consider what bullying is, the different obvious and subtle forms it can take, how it impacts people around them, and how they can work to overcome this challenge. We had youth theatre activities, using the art of spoken word and improv theatre to role-play how to handle a bully, what you can do in a moment and what to do as a bystander.
Creative arts projects, music, and some opportunities to talk about the issues involved and the responses that are necessary were also part of our program. The youth had the chance to talk with members of the Calgary Police Service. Awo Taan Healing Lodge held a conversation surrounding stereotypes and discrimination and Hull Services facilitated a conversation about culture and the connections that come. The youth were encouraged to share their different perspectives when it came to the experiences of bullying.
This event aimed to prepare the youth for Pink Shirt Day on February 28 by initiating conversations to raise the awareness in the youth of what bullying is and what they can do when they see someone being bullied. We used the same theme as this year’s national Pink Shirt Day event so that the youth could be prepared for what this day was going to be about.
All of the agencies that came together felt that this was an important event to host and an important conversation to have in East Calgary and support the youth with bullying.