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Walking against bullies
Pink shirts, rally part of raising awareness in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hundreds of students from all three schools in Rankin Inlet took part in an anti-bullying walk of awareness this past week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Candace Anawak, principal Jesse Payne and Tumi Anawak, back row from left, and Susanne Tattuinee and Loren Kaludjak, front from left, are ready to walk against bullying during pink shirt day at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik in Rankin Inlet this past week. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI) incorporated the anti-bullying program into its school structure this year, and the program was responsible for the purchase of 810 pink shirts recently.

MUI held a student rally on May 17 to distribute the shirts to its students, while students at Simon Alaittuq School (SAS) and Leo Ussak Elementary School (LUS) were also given shirts.

Following their rally, MUI's student body joined the younger students from LUS and SAS to walk around Williamson Lake in the new shirts to raise awareness on the problem of bullying in the community.

Jesse Payne, who has been principal of MUI for about seven years, said the anti-bullying program has raised awareness among the student body this year.

He said students have taken ownership of the program and more of them are coming forward to identify bullying.

"Bullying has been a problem at MUI, as it is at all schools," said Payne.

"When you target or intimidate somebody else, it has a great impact on them.

"At the end of the day, teachers only have so many sets of eyes and cannot prevent bullying fully.

"But if students take ownership of the problem, then we have a whole lot of people at our school who are actually doing something about bullying and, hopefully, that will help bring an end to it."

Payne said the number of reported bullying incidents has risen since the anti-bullying program started at MUI.

He said that shows students are more aware of bullying, and are realizing they can't be bystanders if the problem is to be overcome.

"We also hope to increase after-hour activities in the school to give students more to do.

"So, there's a number of strategies we're taking to try and reduce the incidents of bullying at MUI.

"Hopefully, next year, we'll see less and less coming our way.

"Our ultimate goal is to increase awareness in our student body so, if things do happen, they're reported and we can do something about it."

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