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Canadians from coast to coast were proudly sporting pink on Wednesday on a day of protest against bullying.

Pink Shirt Day is one of several locally and internationally celebrated anti-bullying days – there are more coming in the spring. Today was all about the signature pink T-shirts made famous by a protest at a Canadian high school in 2007.

Hashtags to follow: #PinkShirtDay, #PinkItForward

Why today?

Various jurisdictions in Canada celebrate anti-bullying days on different dates. The tradition of wearing pink shirts emerged in September, 2007, after a Nova Scotia high-school student was targeted with homophobic insults for wearing a pink shirt to school. Two Grade 12 students, Travis Price and David Shepherd, organized their schoolmates to wear pink in solidarity. After the protest spread to schools across Canada and around the world, Nova Scotia’s then-premier, Rodney MacDonald, proclaimed a provincewide Stand Up Against Bullying Day on the second Thursday in September.

(From the archives: Read more on 2007’s pink shirt movement)

In 2008, B.C. followed suit with its own provincial anti-bullying day, Feb. 27. This date was changed to Feb. 25 the following year, and Pink Shirt Day has been observed on this date ever since. Though some other provinces have their own official anti-bullying initiatives (Ontario has its own Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in November), many schools and organizations outside B.C. are observing Pink Shirt Day today as well.

The United Nations declared the official UN Anti-Bullying Day to be May 4 in 2012, and this is the date celebrated in U.S. and British schools. Other pink-themed anti-bullying events are held on the second Wednesday in April, designated the International Day of Pink.

Bullying by the numbers

Three in four Canadian adults said they were bullied while in school, according to a new Angus Reid Institute survey released Wednesday, while nearly half of the parents polled said their children have been bullied at some point.

In the poll of more than 1,500 adults, 75 per cent said they were bullied at some point during elementary school or high school. Among the 24 per cent who said bullying occurred regularly, often or continuously, 37 per cent said they still think about it and 19 per cent said the events had a serious and lasting impact.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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