Pink Shirt Day Deepens Understanding for Selkirk College International Students
Pink Shirt Day is providing meaningful cultural insight for learners in Selkirk College’s Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Program.
An established square on the February calendar since its humble beginnings in Nova Scotia in 2007, Pink Shirt Day is now a movement that spans the globe. This year, students and staff will wear pink on February 23 to bring attention to bullying in schools, workplaces, homes and online.
In the build-up to Pink Shirt Day, Selkirk College Nursing Instructor Katrina Verschoor has been engaging in the broader topics of kindness and anti-bullying with gerontological program students. Based out of the Castlegar Campus, the two-year program provides international students the opportunity to begin a healthcare career in Canada.
“Many of the students in this program venture to Canada alone and this provides them with an opportunity to see things differently,” says Verschoor. “They agree that kindness, love and acceptance of differences are paramount to their future work in healthcare and to achieving world harmony.”
Learners from across the world are enroled in the program, with most of the current students arriving from India. During class discussions, students share that anti-bulling efforts like Pink Shirt Day do not hold the same level of focus where they grew up. As they get familiar with Canadian culture, students are grateful to be in a country where anti-bullying, anti-racism, Truth & Reconciliation and addressing mental health receives such broad support.
“Students often talk about what they love about their culture, the comfort of a large extended family, how elders are respected and treated with kindness, and of course their passion for the food and celebrations,” Verschoor explains. “But when it comes to the anti-bullying efforts they see taking place in Canada, they express that change it is happening slow. During discussions, a third-semester student stated: ‘Let us all be kind to each other in our personal and professional lives… kindness costs nothing, but means everything!’”
The goal for most students in the Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Program is to work towards immigrating to Canada so they can bring strong healthcare backgrounds and fresh Canadian post-secondary education to a workforce that needs their skills and passion. As they make their way through learning a new culture and acquiring new knowledge, the challenges are significant. The principles of Pink Shirt Day provide a vital learning tool for both student and teacher.
“As an instructor and facilitator of learning for these future Canadians, I feel a deep responsibility to nurture this way of being in myself and in every student that I have the opportunity to spend time with,” says Verschoor. “Although we all go through ups and downs, if we can come together in understanding, openness, honesty and a sense of gratitude, we can pave the path to a better future. My single hope is that nobody faces the pain of stigma or trauma because of who they are. There can be no greater tragedy.”
Find out more about the Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Program here: https://selkirk.ca/post-graduate-diploma-gerontology