Cross-country campaign launched after Alberta teen stands up to bullying with Post-it notes

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew
Photos via Facebook

Move over, Pink Shirt Day. Canada is adding a new bullying awareness campaign to the mix.

An Airdrie, Alta., high school student who was the target of bullying responded by posting positive messages around the local high school – a tactic that has spread across the country.

The town of Airdrie was at the centre of an unofficial “Positive Post-it Day” on Thursday, with people around the country posting positive messages at schools, on school buses, at businesses and online.

The movement was launched after someone broke into Grade 11 student Caitlin Prater-Haacke’s locker and used her iPad to write a message on Facebook telling her to die.

Instead of allowing the act of bullying to get her down, Prater-Haacke decided to strike back.

On Oct. 6, Prater-Haacke posted some 800 Post-it notes on lockers and in washrooms around the school which featured simple affirmations such as “You are beautiful.”

Her stance received rebuke from George McDougall High School, however, which the Airdrie Echo reports reprimanded her for littering when some notes fell off the lockers.

The end result, however, was something larger than the dull acts of a bully, or the disapproval of local school officials. A group of local mothers began the Positive Post-it Campaign, which now has more than 2,700 followers on Facebook, and urged the public to join in their post-fest on Thursday.

Photos have streamed in from across the country, reaching as far s Newfoundland according to one participant.

The local Staples store gave away free Post-it Notes and scores of other groups joined in the campaign. The campaign was even supported by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls club.

"Bullying affects everybody, it really does. One comment or one post, or in person, it affecting everybody," Prater-Haacke told CTV News on Thursday. “This was something we could do as a school to bring the spirit up.”

Bullying, and cyber-bulling specifically, has become a serious issue in Canada after several high-profile cases that saw attacks break down their targets. Provinces have launched task forces intent on stopping bullying, programs and awareness campaigns have been planted across the country.

But the most powerful awareness campaigns begin naturally. They are led by those who simply won’t bow down to bullies. The best example of this has so far been Pink Shirt Day, a campaign launched in Nova Scotia in 2007 after a male student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.

Two schoolmates responded by buying 50 such shirts and distributing them around school. Pink Shirt Day is now celebrated annually on February 25.

Positive Post-it Day has neither the scope nor organization that Pink Shirt Day has, but its genesis is similar: An average student taking an exceptional stand in the face of bullying. It is a message that deserves to spread.