Leading in kindness

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Staff members at Victor Sammurtok School (VSS) in Chesterfield Inlet take the ongoing process that is the fight against bullying quite seriously.

Teacher Alex Asfaw, left, follows along as students Austin Mullins and Bertha-Grace Aggark play a game of rock-paper-scissors during Pink Day activities at Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet on Feb. 27, 2019. Photo courtesy Victor Sammurtok School
Teacher Alex Asfaw, left, follows along as students Austin Mullins and Bertha-Grace Aggark play a game of rock-paper-scissors during Pink Day activities at Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet on Feb. 27, 2019. Photo courtesy Victor Sammurtok School

Every member of the student body received a T-Shirt to show their support for anti-bullying on Pink Day, Feb. 27.
Glen Brocklebank said he and his fellow teachers have been talking to the students a lot about bullying, so they know how to define it and understand what it is.
He said the teachers have also been trying to provide the students with some coping strategies in case they find themselves being bullied.
“On anti-bullying day this past month, we invited the RCMP into the school and they gave an age-appropriate talk to all the kids from kindergarten to Grade 12 in individual classes,” said Brocklebank.
“We also wanted to have a team-building activity, so we brought everybody into the gym for the final two classes of the day.
“The students were all ready in their classes, so we split the gym into three sections and had a Tic-Tac-Toe race, a tug of war and a rock-paper-scissors hula-hoop competition, during which they had to try and hop in a hula hoop to get to the other end of the gym.
“Wherever they met their opposite opponent, they had to do rock-paper-scissors, and they got a point for their team if they made it to their home base.”
Brocklebank said the teachers also made a point of refreshing student memories on who they can talk to if they find themselves in a bullying situation.
He said the teachers discuss the seriousness of bullying with the students and the effects it can have – how others can feel if they are being bullied, especially on a regular basis – but they also want to give everyone a chance to be on equal footing by doing some fun activities.
“We finished Pink Day off by having the students versus the staff members in a tug of war and the students beat us bad.
“Our approach looks to strike a balance between discussing the serious aspects of bullying while, at the same time, showing them we can work together to address the problem and, in fact, it’s better if we do work together.”
Brocklebank said bullying is a problem everywhere.
He said he’s actually cautious to say ‘problem’ at VSS, but the staff is aware of it.
“If you ask certain students, they would say it isn’t a problem at our school.
“That’s why it’s important to define what bullying actually is and to make people aware of how others feel.
“VSS may be a small school but bullying is something all schools should be aware of.”
Brocklebank said the fight to lessen bullying, or eliminate it altogether one day, is an ongoing process.
He said one problem is that the kids who do say things often don’t think what they’re doing is bullying.
“They try to disguise it as just joking around and not really being serious.
“Well, it might not be serious to them but it is serious to the person who they’re saying it to.
“What you do and what you say – that doesn’t mean it’s being perceived, or coming across, in the same way.
“We ask the students to be aware of the fact our words and actions have power, so let’s try to swing that power to the kind side of our interactions.”