A giant pink anti-bullying blanket made by the Brandon University Anti-Bullying Society is making its way to Ottawa next week.
The blanket, which measures 32 feet by 42 feet, is covered by close to 7,000 signatures from students to politicians taking their stand against bullying. Society vice-president Krystal Kayne has spearheaded the blanket campaign. “Another member of the Anti- Bullying Society came up with the idea,” Kayne said. “The idea was to use it to stop blanketing the issues of bullying.”
The original plan was for a kingsized pink blanket, but Kayne wanted it to be much bigger. “When I said I wanted to make a blanket big enough to cover a school bus, everyone thought that was a bit ambitious,” Kayne said. “On Nov. 15, we actually were able to cover a school bus parked at the university.”
Kayne and her son Jaren are taking the 33-pound blanket to Ottawa on Monday. The blanket will go to Parliament Hill as well as a local school to create awareness and add more signatures.
Kayne and Jaren will both be speaking at a non-partisan event open to all MPs and other parliamentary staff on May 27.
“It has taken some traumatic losses to get the attention of the world to see what heinous incidents of bullying can do to our children,” Kayne’s speech reads. “This can be stopped. We do not need to lose more children to bullying.
“This blanket is meant to diminish apathy and bring awareness, comfort and hope,” the speech continues.
Kayne joined the Anti-Bullying Society after an attack on her son by boys who wore ski masks while kicking and injuring him.
Although the school has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, Kayne says there was no punishment or repercussions for the boys who hurt Jaren.
“It needs to be more than just words,” Jaren says. “They really need to do something.”
Kayne also went to the police after the incident to find out what could be done. She explained that the police told her that because the boys were under 12 years old they could not be charged.
The pink blanket has been a project for Kayne to work on to increase awareness of bullying and let people know that they are not alone.
“More focus needs to be put on kids standing up to bullying and less on labelling,” she said. “A kid labelled a bully will continue to live up to that name. They have a reputation to keep, even if it’s a negative one.”
Kayne hopes the trip will help to show the government that just having a zero-tolerance policy for bullying is not enough to prevent it from happening.
The 7,000 signatures and messages on the blanket include ones from Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Premier Greg Selinger and federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.