Click here to access Stuart Shanker's guest article: Expanding our Understanding of the Meaning of "Safe."

Safe and Caring is proud to announce Alberta’s second Orange Shirt Day Logo Competition

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Students from across Alberta, grades K-12, are encouraged to submit original artwork to Safe and Caring for consideration in the 2017 Orange Shirt Day Logo Competition.

The winning logo will be selected by a panel of judges at Edmonton City Hall, during Aboriginal Week, at the end of May, and will be featured on the front of Alberta’s 2017 Official Orange Shirt.

Orange Sh2016 Orange Shirt Logo winnerirt Day is the outcome of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in William’s Lake, BC. The name stems from Phyllis Webstad’s experience at St. Joseph’s Residential School, known to many survivors as The Mission.  When Phyllis was first brought to The Mission as a six-year-old girl, she had her new orange shirt stripped from her, never to be seen again. That orange shirt was a gift from her grandmother, and the colour orange has since served as a reminder of the neglect and abuse she experienced in the residential school system.

Last year, St. Albert student Arlyssa McAurther’s artwork (pictured left) was selected from more than 375 submissions, by a panel of judges that included Indigenous community leaders, ATA (Alberta Teachers’ Association) representatives and Safe and Caring staff. Her logo was featured on the 900+ Official Orange Shirts sold through Safe and Caring.

Contest Rules

  • Contest is open to all Alberta students, grades K-12
  • Submissions from individuals and classes will be accepted
  • Designs must be original artwork and can be in any medium (pencil, watercolour, oil paint), so long as it can fit on the front of the orange shirt
  • Entries must be submitted by Tuesday, May 23, 2017

To enter, please submit designs to Safe and Caring by May 23, 2017, either by mail or email. Be sure to include your name, age, the school you attend and any other information you think is relevant to your work.

Send by mail to:

Safe and Caring Schools & Communities
Room 226, 11010 142 Street NW,
Edmonton, AB  T5N 2R1

Send by email to:

Leslie MacEachern, at

Please keep in mind that the winning logo will appear on the front of Alberta’s Official Orange Shirt, online and in various print materials. Design submissions must be able to scale in sizes for various formats. The official title for the Orange Shirt Campaign is Every Child Matters, as it has been in previous years. Students can choose to include the title in their artwork; however, it is not necessary.

Celebrate Pink Shirt Day with Safe and Caring

Pink Shirt Day 2017-01On February 22, schools across Canada are celebrating Pink Shirt Day — an anti-bullying initiative which promotes kindness and respect between classmates, peers and fellow humans of all stripes. Wearing a pink shirt on this day is a condemnation of bullying, and a commitment to making schools safe and respectful places for everyone.

The origins of Pink Shirt Day are in Berwick, Nova Scotia’s Central Kings Rural High School, where older kids stuck up for a Grade 9 student who was the target of several bullies, simply for being a boy who wore pink. In a show of solidarity, David Shepherd and Travis Price organized a pink shirt protest. And, just a couple of days after the bullying occurred, nearly half the school was wearing pink.

How awkward it must have been for the bullies, when they realized that their mean-spiritedness was a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the love and compassion shown by the rest of their school.

In the years since, the movement has grown to include professional sports teams (the Edmonton Oilers have rocked pink shirts), police departments, and even the Prime Minister of Canada — who all wear pink as a way of promoting individuality and good will.

So, what does Pink Shirt Day mean to us?

At Safe and Caring Schools, we’re committed to improving the lives of all Alberta children by working to end bullying, violence and sexual exploitation. Naturally, Pink Shirt Day is a perfect fit. It’s an opportunity to peacefully stand up to bullies.

In this way, our vision also aligns with the #MakeItAwkward campaign, an Edmonton organization that encourages everyone to speak out and speak up in the face of racism, homophobia, sexism and discrimination of all kinds. Sometimes, calling people out on their bad behaviour and discriminatory speech can be difficult and awkward, but we encourage people to embrace that awkwardness for the greater good — if and when they can do so safely.

Safe and Caring Schools and #MakeItAwkward will launch an official partnership with a luncheon next month. The #MakeItAwkward team will be incorporating our teaching tools into their platforms in order to reach their targeted audience with concise and helpful info. Meanwhile, the #MakeItAwkward campaign is lending their network and brand to help strengthen our message. We believe that anti-discrimination and anti-bullying go hand in hand, and by working together we can strengthen both initiatives.

#MakeItAwkward was founded when Jesse Lipscombe was the victim of racist taunting. A car full of people yelled a racial slur at him several times while he was filming in downtown Edmonton. He turned that hate incident into a movement based on love and positivity. Similarly, when racist anti-Sikh posters appeared on the University of Alberta campus a few weeks later, the school’s Sikh community made it awkward by launching a “Turban Eh!” event which aimed to educate fellow students on Sikhism.

Pink Shirt Day — and the efforts by David Shepherd and Travis Price — are the very essence of what #MakeItAwkward is all about. Because while #MakeItAwkward is about calling people out on their words in a safe and respectful way, it’s also about responding to negativity and bullying with greater amounts of love and positivity.

On February 22, Safe and Caring School and #MakeItAwkward will proudly wear pink shirts, because we believe that where there is desire and action, love will always trump hate.

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Love Yourself Enough to Know You Deserve a Healthy Relationship

RHands to heartomantic relationships have the power to impact our lives in countless ways. They can provide excitement, complexity and fulfillment, but sometimes they can also have a detrimental effect.

Relationships come in many forms and it’s not always easy to tell if yours is healthy. Friends and family can tell you what they think, but it’s important to be able to decide for yourself.

Safe and Caring has developed a healthy relationship checklist to assist with this. We’ve pulled key information from decades of relationship research to help you decide if your relationship is healthy, or not.

This Valentine’s Day, ask yourself, “how healthy is my relationship?”, and compare it with our checklist:

  1. You are comfortable being yourself.

You don’t feel pressured to become someone else in the relationship and you don’t expect your partner to be someone they aren’t. Though we grow through our interactions with intimate partners, change should occur naturally and should not result in someone you don’t recognize.

  1. You trust your partner to treat you honourably.

Trust is the foundation of intimacy.  You have the confidence to share your private thoughts and feelings with your partner, without worrying the information will be told to anyone else. And you know your partner feels the same way.

  1. You feel understood by your partner.

Your partner doesn’t just hear you – they know you. It goes beyond good communication, satisfying our inner craving to be understood and accepted for who we are.

  1. You are able to resolve problems constructively.

Disagreements are an inevitable part of any relationship are not indicative of relationship health. It’s not what you fight about – it’s how you negotiate your differences that matters.

  1. You and your partner both make the relationship a priority.

For a relationship to flourish, it needs to be nurtured. Spend time together, celebrate each others’ successes and try something new!

  1. Your relationship is supported by family and friends.

It’s important to balance your time with your partner while keeping ties to family and friends. Especially in times of stress – outside support can help you and your partner weather the storm without eroding your relationship.

COMMUNITY: Resources for National Bullying Awareness Day 2016


It’s National Bullying Awareness Week

As a longtime supporter of National Bullying Awareness Week and advocate for safe and caring learning environments, we have a large collection of freely available resources to help you celebrate this wonderful week!

Check out the list below for some ideas on how to celebrate, tips for creating safe spaces, and background information about the impacts of bullying.

How to Celebrate

Creating Safe Spaces

Understanding Bullying Behaviour

Being informed about bullying is the first step to working together to address bullying behaviour and promote healthy relationships.

Responding to Bullying Behaviour

Bullying affects everyone, including those who engage in bullying behaviour, those who experience bullying, and bystanders who witness the bullying.

Managing Stressful Child and Youth Stress

Often, children and youth act out because they are experiencing an unhealthy amount of stress. These resources, created in partnership with our partners at The MEHRIT Centre, explore how calming a child’s stress can improve their ability to learn, socialize, and engage with their peers.

COMMUNITY: Recommended reading about residential schools


Orange Shirt Day is around the corner: September 30, 2016!

Below is a list of some recommended reading about residential schools for sharing in your classroom, compiled by the CBC

  1. Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
  2. Shin-chi’s Canoe, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
  3. Arctic Stories, by Michael Kusugak (Ages 4-8)
  4. Kookum’s Red Shoes, by Peter Eyvindson (Ages 4-8)
  5. Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
  6. A Stranger at Home: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
  7. No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, by Sylvia Olsen (Ages 9-12)
  8. As Long as the Rivers Flow, by Larry Loyia (Ages 9-12)
  9. My name is Seepeetza, by Shirley Sterling (Ages 9-12)
  10. We Feel Good out here = Zhik gwaa’an, nakhwatthaiitat qwiinzii (The Land is Our Storybook), by Julie-Ann Andre and Mindy Willet (Ages 9-12)

Don’t forget to share pictures of your own Orange Shirt Day celebrations on Twitter and Facebook! Use #OrangeShirtDay2016 and #EveryChildMatters and mention @SafeandCaring to join our conversation!

COMMUNITY: Celebrating Orange Shirt Day

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About Orange Shirt Day

Three years ago, Williams Lake, British Columbia hosted a memorial event for the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) School. Former students were given a chance to share their memories from their time at residential schools, and the community took a step toward reconciliation by acknowledging and honouring their experiences.

One student, Phyllis, told a story of having her brand new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school. The poignancy of her tale has inspired schools in British Columbia, and across Canada, to put on orange shirts of their own to celebrate reconciliation in their own communities. Orange Shirt Day happens this year on September 30, and is an opportunity for teachers, students, parents, and other community members to don an orange shirt and open up a discussion on all aspects of residential schools.

City of Edmonton Celebration

An official Orange Shirt Day celebration will be held at City Hall in Edmonton, Alberta. Join us and Mayor Don Iveson at 12:00 noon on September 30 to hear an official proclamation of Orange Shirt Day and hear the stories of residential school survivors or family members. Entertainment will be provided.

Art entries from the Orange Shirt Day logo design competition will also be displayed at City Hall for public viewing.

How can you celebrate?

Are you interested in getting involved in Orange Shirt Day? Here are some ideas on how to plan your own day of positivity at school, in the classroom, at the office, or on social media.

Celebrating in your school or classroom

Safe and Caring has sent Orange Shirt Day informational packages to public and Catholic schools across the province. To celebrate in your school, share materials with other teachers and encourage them and their students to wear Orange Shirts on September 30. Host a school-wide assembly (in-person or over PA system) or small classroom discussion on Orange Shirt Day, to get students thinking about the residential school experience. Ideas include:

  • Watch the Shaw video of Phyllis’s story
  • Discuss what it means to say that “Every Child Matters”
  • Organize simple activities, for example, children can trace their hand, cut it out, then write in the hand something they can do to help others feel like they matter. Display your caring handprints in the classroom or school hallway.

Celebrating in your office

Send a memo to your coworkers a few days beforehand to let them know about Orange Shirt Day, explain what it means to you and encourage participation. If there aren’t any available common spaces, post messages directly onto coworkers’ cubicle walls and office doors.

Celebrating online

Snap a picture or take a video of what you and your school are doing to support Orange Shirt Day and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #OrangeShirtDay2016 and #EveryChildMatters. If you mention @SafeandCaring we will retweet you to share your event with other schools.

365 days of reconciliation

If you miss September 30, don’t worry! There are lots of opportunities to honour the residential school experience and celebrate human rights year round.

Connect with Safe and Caring at for ideas, advice, and resources.

Now pick up your own Orange Shirt and get started!

COMMUNITY: Great Canadian Giving Challenge!

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Hello Safe and Caring family!

You can help

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities is excited to participate in The Great Canadian Giving Challenge: YOU can help us win $10,000! It’s so easy. Just click on or Every $ you donate to Safe and Caring in June qualifies us to win $10,000.

Serving the entire province of Alberta, Safe and Caring is funded solely by donations. We work with K-12 schools and their teachers and community leaders through a mentorship approach. Our workshops are aimed at teachers, parents, leaders, and teen mentors within the community, and are designed to empower and enable children and adults to create healthy relationships and environments.

What your donations will support

NEW for 2016! SAC is proud to lead the 2016 Orange Shirt Campaign. Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event, held in the spring of 2013 in Williams Lake, BC, Canada. The event has grown out of a former student’s account of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day at the residential school. The Orange Shirt Campaign is meant to recognize the harm done to residential school students, and show a commitment to the principle that every child matters!

SAC builds community capacity to prevent bullying, aggression, violence, and exploitation of children and youth through the promotion of healthy relationships. Our vision is that every school and community will be a safe, caring, healthy, and inclusive environment where each child can grow to be a successful, respectful, and responsible contributor to our society.


We currently provide workshops to schools and community leaders developed around human rights, bullying prevention, healthy relationships, and supporting Aboriginal, newcomer, and LGBTQ students.


Your donation would ensure the continued and expanded delivery of these critical supports to our education system and community partners.

What to do

To make a donation, click on or

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COMMUNITY: Get Loud for CMHA’s 65th Annual Mental Health Week

About Mental Health Week

CMHA introduced Mental Health Week (MHW) in 1951 to raise awareness of mental illness in Canada. Today, MHW offers practical ways to maintain and improve mental health and support recovery from mental illness and addictions.

CMHA’s 65th Annual Mental Health Week is fast approaching (May 2-8). And again this year, CMHA is asking Canadians to GET LOUD about the mental health of seniors.

Getting loud means speaking up to stop the discrimination and the stigma that usually go hand in hand with mental illness. It means using your voice to raise awareness and build support. For someone at work. For someone at home. For yourself.

Currently, one in four Canadian seniors has a mental health issue. And there is growing evidence that the incidence of mental illness is increasing in older adults.

Older people can also have problems related to substance use, particularly tobacco and alcohol. Overuse and misuse of prescription medications can pose problems as well. Men over the age of 80 are the group with the highest suicide rate in Canada.

Seniors are at risk for mental illness and addictions. Some seniors already have a mental health issue from earlier in life. Others have a mental health problem such as depression that developed later in life. Perhaps they have lost a loved one or suffered a stroke. Seniors are often undertreated for mental health problems. Reasons may include:

  • Symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions: Many seniors have multiple health problems. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between signs of physical and mental illness. Also, symptoms of mental illness may look different in older adults.
  • Discrimination and stigma: Some people are unwilling to ask for help for fear of what others may think and how they may be treated. There are still many negative and mistaken attitudes around mental illness that fuel discrimination and stigma—and make it harder to reach out for help.
  • Believing it is too late in life to make changes: Seniors, family members and others can believe it is too late to do anything about poor mental and physical health in older age. It is never too late!
  • Physical and financial challenges: Getting to treatment can be a challenge for many older people with mobility issues. So is the cost of treatment. Not all mental health services are publicly funded. Seniors who don’t have private insurance may not be able to pay for services that aren’t covered.
  • Service availability: Everyone’s treatment needs are different, and sometimes the right services and community supports aren’t available when people need them.

What can we do?

If you are a senior with a mental health issue, there are treatment options and strategies that can help:

  • Talk to your family doctor: They can be a great resource, and can link you to other professionals, if needed. If you are in distress, go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department, call 911 or contact a crisis line.
  • Talk with supportive friends and family: Share your feelings with them. Explain what you need and let them help you. Loved ones can offer both emotional and practical support—like scheduling appointments or finding services. They may observe early changes in a senior’s well-being, including setbacks and improvements.
  • Connect with others who have personal experience with a mental health problem: Learn more about their recovery journey.


In addition to the support of family and friends, here are other sources of information and inspiration that can help:

  • Websites of reputable mental health organizations such as CMHA visit to find supports in Alberta
  • Books about specific mental health problems
  • Online resources
  • Courses and workshops offered through community centres, schools and universities
  • People you admire for their ability to find balance

Safe and Caring has a few resources available for print and download. Check them out and share!

COMMUNITY: Orange Shirt Campaign Logo Design Competition!

OSCbanner-01The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities is holding a province–wide contest for students to design a logo for this year’s Orange Shirt Campaign!


Orange Shirt Day, taking place on September 30, 2016, is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013. It grew out of former student Phyllis’s account of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and ithas become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.

Contest rules

  • Contest is open to all Alberta students grades K–12
  • Submissions by individual students as well as classes will be accepted
  • Designs must be original artwork
  • Entries must be submitted by Friday, June 10, 2016

The winning submission will be the official logo of the Alberta Orange Shirt Campaign and will be featured prominently on t–shirts and print materials for the campaign. The winner will also be invited to the Alberta Legislature on September 29th, where they will be presented with a framed copy of their artwork. All designs submitted will be featured at the Alberta Legislature.

Keep in mind

  • The logo will appear on official orange t–shirts and print materials, as well as online
  • The logo must be able to scale in size for smaller formats
  • The official title for the Orange Shirt Campaign is: Every Child Matters. You are welcome to include that text in your design, but it is not mandatory

Submission guidelines

Send by mail to: Safe and Caring Schools & CommunitiesRoom 226, 11010­–142 Street NWEdmonton, AB T5N 2R1 OR, send by email to:

Submission deadline

Friday, June 10, 2016

For more information

Download and print our info sheet OR, contact: Leslie MacEachern, Safe and Caring Schools & Communities at 780.822.1500 or