New Westminster firefighters are suiting up in pink T-shirts to promote anti-bullying initiatives.
Pink Shirt Day - also known as Anti-Bullying Day - is being celebrated across Canada on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
"Anti-bullying is not a one-day mission. It should be a year-round, 24/seven subject matter we should all embrace," said New Westminster fire inspector Kathy Ius. "That is all part and parcel of the message."
Beginning Feb. 20, local firefighters will be donning pink T-shirts with the goal of promoting an anti-bullying message and showing their support for other anti-bullying initiatives underway in the city.
"It's our way of bringing to the community a message that we completely support all the anti-bullying campaigns promoted throughout the community, especially at the schools," Ius said. "We just want to go out in the community and say, 'We are here and we can support you.'"
New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services has collected anti-bullying resources, which it will gladly make available as needed. Firefighters will also be attending some local anti-bullying events, including a walk/run at the Queensborough Middle School.
"It brings us together, not just as firefighters - it is bringing the community together in one cause," Ius said.
Fire crews will be visiting some local schools and attending events to help raise awareness and support organizations that advocate for anti-bullying in the city.
While schools have tackled anti-bullying initiatives, Ius noted that it's an issue that goes beyond schools.
"It is endemic of society as a whole - schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods," she said. "You always think it's going to be in the workplace or school - it is not that cut and dried."
City firefighters received permission from management to wear pink T-shirts instead of work attire. Various locals of the International Association of Fire Fighters also support anti-bullying initiatives.
"Across the continent there are quite a few fire departments that have had initiatives similar to this," Ius said. "I personally felt that it needed to be done."
According to New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services, Pink Shirt Day began when two Nova Scotia high school students gave pink shirts to boys in their school, after discovering a new student had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt.