Mackenzie Cox representing the first Black Shirt Day at North Island Secondary. (Zoe Ducklow Photo)

Port McNeill Grade 12 student observes Black Shirt Day for anti-racism

‘Wearing that colour T-shirt for that day is a commitment to show that we care.’

Grade 12 student Mackenzie Cox is wearing all black today for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, newly dubbed by the Anti-Racism Coalition based in Vancouver as Black Shirt Day.

Taking inspiration from Pink Shirt Day (for anti-bullying) and Orange Shirt Day (for acknowledging the history and ongoing effects of residential schools), organizers hope the day will bring awareness to anti-racism and civil rights. They are petitioning for the B.C. government to officially recognize Black Shirt Day, but in the meantime schools around the province are already on board.

“We need to make more of a big deal about putting an effort to get to know everyone’s background,” 17 year-old North Island Secondary School student Cox said.

“Here [in Port McNeill] we have the First Nations, so I think it would be important to get to know more of that, and also from other countries so we are more aware and so no one feels left out, or like we don’t care.

“Because we do care, but not showing it, and not talking about it in classes, that’s of course what they’re going to think, that we don’t care.”

She heard of Black Shirt Day just two days ago, so there wasn’t much time to get the school engaged. She went straight to Vice-Principal Ben Donahue for support, who immediately agreed. They made a few announcements, but it’s more of a soft launch before going full throttle next year.

READ MORE: Petition calling for official anti-racism Black Shirt Day gaining traction in B.C.

Donahue is planing to make it an annual occurrence, with resources for teachers and students in hopes that the school can continue to engage in anti-racist learning.

“It’s a chance to raise awareness about racism. Race has an impact on all of our lives. I know during the Black Lives Matter [protests in the summer], it was cool seeing people realizing we’ve still got a lot to learn.

“Especially for me being a white male, there are so many different ways people experience the world, and it’s on me to learn more about it. I think Black Shirt Day is a symbolic way to show we all have a bunch more learning to do,” he said.

Cox is graduating this year and plans to study counselling at the University of Victoria, but hopes the school can continue to participate in things like this.

“A lot of people don’t partake in [the shirt days] because they don’t like orange or the colour pink. I don’t think they understand that even just wearing that colour T-shirt for that day is a commitment to show that we care.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in accident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19 logging site in Gold River

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council
Council discusses Highland Manor sale

Port Hardy council debates what approach to take to Highland Manor after sale.

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Civic Centre in Port Hardy needs funding to be fully operational during a power outage. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Civic Centre needs 10 grand to be fully operational during a power outage

Staff “will be creative in where they get the money to pay for this and they’ll let us know.”

Premier John Horgan met with the ‘Namgis First Nation in 2017 at their Big House on Cormorant Island to discuss issues regarding aquaculture. (North Island Gazette file photo)
‘Namgis First Nation partners with the Province of B.C.

The next step in the Gwa’ni Project will be community and stakeholder consultation in spring 2021.

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read