Bullying prevention success in Rankin Inlet

A guidance counsellor for a family of schools in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, was searching hard for solutions to bullying in his remote area. Harold Peach, originally from Newfoundland, spent most of his days responding to bullying and behavioural challenges between students.

Last year, he came across the Canadian Red Cross RespectED: Violence &  Abuse Prevention Program, through a web search. Harold immediately called Sarah Smith, Director of RespectED for Western Canada, at 4:30 in the morning and booked training on the spot. In December 2011, Norm Jakubowski, a lead RespectED trainer and former teacher and principal himself, went to Nunavut to train all the teachers in Rankin Inlet on bullying and harassment; he also conducted a special session for parents.

When asked what the impact of the RespectED training has been, Harold says, “The students know what [bullying] is now and I hear them talking about it in the halls." He adds, "They used to come in to my office, curl up on the sofa but wouldn't say a word; now they come in, sit down and talk about it in their own words."  Harold also noted that he has seen a change in the students that were engaging in the bullying behaviour, in that they are aware of what they are doing and trying to change.

"The students have the right to come to a school that is very safe and I should make sure it is safe," explains Harold. One of the key components of Harold's vision was a visible reminder against bullying. Through support from Agnico-Eagle Mining and First Air, Harold was able to provide every student and teacher in the school with a t-shirt after the training. In just three short months, all the students have received more than 12 hours of bullying education and are pictured proudly wearing their shirts.

The RespectED training has left a lasting impact in this community. In a month or so, when the weather is warmer, more than 800 students, teachers, janitors, support staff and their families will be wearing pink shirts as they celebrate a community-wide Pink Shirt Day for the first time in Rankin Inlet. "Bystanders have to play a key role and a more active role, and say this is not right," adds Harold. "I want youth to say that they will stand up for themselves and others, and in turn, expect that others will stand up for them too."