COLUMN: Nelson Library prepare to go pink

Celebrated on February 26, Pink Shirt Day is a call to action against bullying.

There’s a day of the year for just about everything: from Mother’s Day to Mole Day to the enigmatic Towel Day (what happens on Towel Day?), there is clearly much to celebrate.

February’s special days include Darwin Day (February 12), Hug Day (February 13), and Thinking Day (February 22), or my personal favourite: Think About Hugging Darwin Day (February 29). You can celebrate all of those any way you choose; as for the Library, there are three days that make our calendar.

Family Day is a new holiday in BC, observed and enjoyed this year on Monday, February 10. That means the Library will be closed, the better for staff and patrons to hug nearby family members or think fondly of the ones not close by. If any of your family members happen to be called Darwin, so much the better.

Valentine’s Day follows hard on the heels of Family Day, so it’s sure to be a very huggy month. It’s flu season, so if you’re feeling compelled to kiss your favourite librarian on this special day, know that a smile is all we really need to feel loved. That way, we’ll all stay in the pink.

Which brings us to Pink Shirt Day.

Celebrated on February 26, Pink Shirt Day is a call to action against bullying. It began as a protest against an incident that occurred in a Nova Scotia high school in 2007. When a male student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt, students David Shepherd and Travis Price bought and distributed 50 pink shirts — and a movement was born.  The website pinkshirtday.ca describes that event.

“They sent out a message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag. As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled. The bullies were never heard from again.”

We’ve all seen the news stories about teens Rehtaeh Parsons  and Amanda Todd, young women who committed suicide as a result of bullying. In these cases the Internet played a key role, but the truth is that bullying happens everywhere, ever since the first playground bully shoved the kid who “didn’t fit”.

We’ve all been bullied, or have been bullies, or stood by when bullying happened. And so the Library is inviting anyone who’s been touched by bullying — or just cares — to join us in celebrating Pink Shirt Day. On Wednesday, February 26 look for special book displays on bullying, our Pink Book Display, and if you’re wearing pink, you can enter our draw.

On the eve of Pink Shirt Day — Tuesday February 25 at 7 p.m. — the Library hosts Pink Words — Writers Against Bullying. The event brings together adult and youth writers who care about bullying in an evening of readings and refreshments.

Children’s author Cyndi Sand-Eveland has dealt with the subject in her books Dear Toni, A Tinfoil Sky and in her newest novel, a work in progress. Poet Jane Byers will share her writing about homophobia. And I’ll read from the story Normal in my novel Flying with Amelia, a fictionalized account of a real event from my own childhood.

We’ll have young writers reading their words as well (details TBA). Admission to the event is by donation, with funds raised to benefit the Nelson and District Youth Centre. Wear pink!

There’s one more day in February I didn’t mention. In the UK, February 8 is National Libraries Day. Which sounds like a worthwhile thing to celebrate, wherever you live.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more visit www.nelsonlibrary.ca.

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