Pink Shirt Day at North Vancouver's Brooksbank elementary school
The windows to the right of Brooksbank elementary school's main entrance are lined with inspirational quotes from iconic figures such as Ghandi and Mother Teresa.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win," reads one, written by the leader of India's non-violent independence movement.
"Peace begins with a smile," reads another, this one from the pen of the world's most famous nun.
Each phrase offers a valuable lesson and provides important context for the school's upcoming anti-bullying and multicultural events.
Not to be outdone, however, are the students themselves. They might not — yet, that is — enjoy the status of those aforementioned people but Grade 5 student Ashika Harman has crafted her own phrase worthy of a spot on any windowpane: "Don't wait for the world to change, change it for yourself."
The wise-beyond-her-years Harman is a driving force behind some Pink Shirt Day activities at Brooksbank, where students in her class will be tie-dying t-shirts and attaching positive messages to them in support of the popular anti-bullying day on Feb. 29.
In a similar vein, the school will also be hosting a multicultural day, spearheaded by Harman, to highlight how important an acceptance of other cultures is.
"People should accept each other no matter what background or religion they are," said Harman.
The connection between anti-bullying day and the school's multicultural events is one Harman and friend Hayley Coulson, also an organizer of the events, drew themselves. The initiatives focus on inclusiveness and the ethic present in both, whether it considers one's ancestry or age, is the same.
"It's an opportunity to help and if people have a problem this can help them work through it. Ideas can help people" said Coulson.
"If we thought people weren't equal, it wouldn't be fair. We're all human beings. Not all people are bad in a country, there's good too."
Both principal Arlene Martin and school counsellor Vince White praised the thoughtfulness and maturity of the girls' work. Addressing bullying can be a tough subject, but to shine a light on the layered and complicated notion of belonging is to tackle a complex idea.
"When something is driven from the students it can have greater reaches than when staff imposes its view," said White.
"And they're discussing the greater reaches of belonging, more than just bullying."