Walking into a high-end restaurant full of immaculately dressed, successful business women, local celebrities, and community influencers sounds like one of the most intimidating ways to spend an afternoon.
Yet, every face was welcoming, every conversation was positive, and everyone was wearing pink, the most non-confrontation color imaginable, all in support anti-bullying initiatives.
The CKNW Orphans’ Fund held their 5th annual Pink Shirt Day Ladies Luncheon at Blue Water Café in Vancouver on Friday, February 19. The event successfully raised $60,000 – a $15,000 increase from last year.
Hosts and media darlings, Fiona Forbes and Karen Khunkhun, guided guests through the afternoon, as women bid on lavish auction items, including spa packages, luxurious getaways, shoes, jewelry, and more.
Using the hashtag #PinkItForward, women turned the internet positive by passing on a message of love and kindness to anyone, anywhere. Every time someone uses the hashtag, event sponsors Coast Capital will donate $1 to Pink Shirt Day.
But the event was clearly about more than just dollars. It was about raising awareness and sending a strong message that bullying is not tolerated among children, teens, or adults.
This year, Kaitlyn Bristowe of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette fame, who was severely cyberbullied following the show, was there to deliver her own message. Quirky, spunky, and honest – she explained her new mantra of “mock and block” – a tactic of simply calling out her online bullies before deleting them from her social media.
Often, people don’t think their words reach those with millions of followers, and somehow their comments are overlooked. She told stories of how people who called her a sell out because she posed with a product, had profile photos of them holding a Budweiser.
“If Budweiser told you they would pay you a ridiculous amount of money to simply use a product you already enjoy, would you turn it down?” she asked.
Jen Schaeffers, Executive Director of the CKNW Orphans’ Fund hopes that those who heard Kaitlyn speak took away a message of encouragement, resilience, and learned just how important it is to be kind – both to people in person and online.
“We had heard how Kaitlyn had been severely cyber-bullied following her appearance as The Bachelorette. Since then, Kaitlyn has been quite vocal against cyber bullying, and given she is in Vancouver frequently, we extended the invitation to have her speak,” says Schaeffers. “Many people around this world are cyber bullied and it’s hard to know what to do, how to react and how to move forward, so we were looking forward to hearing her perspective and advice.”
Pink Shirt Day has grown into a global call to action. On Wednesday, February 24, CKNW Orphans’ Fund will be hosting the 9th annual anti-bullying campaign Pink Shirt Day presented by Coast Capital Savings. Held at the corner of Georgia and Granville Streets from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., the Pink Shirt Day rally encourages British Columbians to wear pink to show support and symbolize zero-tolerance for bullying.
The t-shirt design for this year’s Pink Shirt Day campaign was created by award-winning advertising agency Rethink Canada and states, “Kindness is one size fits all.”
But Pink Shirt Day is about more than just a single day, it’s about altering a mentality long-term.
“I think if we spent more time as parents teaching and talking to our children about the importance of being kind, this world would be a lot better place,” says Schaeffers. “Maybe that is idealistic but there is a lot of research to show that if bullying is addressed early in a child’s life, the less likely it will continue to be a problem.”
As parents, she says, there is often a large focus on the grades children get or what sports they’re excelling at.
“I wonder what would happen if we spent that same amount of time talking to our children about showing kindness and compassion? We also need to model it. I hope through movements like Pink Shirt Day that kindness never goes out of style. We have to start somewhere!”