Things really got hot in Aurora, Ontario Thursday Feb 4th. It was wall to wall people and great music as I had the pleasure of attending a very special community centered event. This was the launch of the Say My Name Canada 2016 campaign at Aw Shucks Seafood Bar and Bistro.
Spearheaded by local Newmarket musician Glenn Marais, Say My Name Canada is a campaign to end bullying, driven by a Kindness Challenge to help spread kindness and increase tolerance by engaging students in York Region, and hopefully all citizens across the country to help show the power of kindness.
Participants are asked to join the campaign (free to join) and share their Acts Of Kindness, which will be tallied during the campaign. The object is to reach 1 million acts of kindness in Canada!
The night’s entertainment featured Glenn Marais, as well as George St. Kitts Band. This was one packed house full of supporters; many dressed up in mardi gras costumes, complete with bead necklaces and feather headdress as Aw Shucks was transformed into Mardi Gras North. There were also many of the vibrant pink Say My Name Canada t-shirts being donned by the party crowd. And man, they partied!
Things really heated up with Glenn’s singing, filling the dance floor with the beaded revelers. George St Kitts then took the stage and kept the temperature up with their non-stop high paced sets and a return of Marais for some additional numbers.
From a personal viewpoint, I must say that having spent time covering many concerts and festivals over the past year, it was really a “feel good” evening to be getting to a grass-roots, community focused event like this.
I’ve seen the toll of bullying over the years. I’ve read the tragic stories of lives affected from this senseless behaviour. Say My Name Canada is challenging all of us to do our part to create a better world. I mean, geez, how can you argue with that?
Last year, Glenn produced a very powerful video for this campaign; see it here . Marais also has many musical achievements to his credit, including a SOCAN award and a Juno nomination for his songwriting. I was able to get a little more insight from Glenn after the event.
SCE: How did Say My Name Canada get started?
GM: It started with my partner in my anti-bullying company, Positive Classrooms. Her son was bullied by his own hockey team, when he could no longer play rep due to a congenital hip condition. I wrote the song based on that idea, that identities are removed in the act of bullying and that a person’s name is part of their identity and very important to them. After the song, I wanted to do a video in a high school, which was shot last November. After shooting the video and hearing that many of the kids in the video had been bullied before, the idea for a campaign that we had hoped would go across Canada, came to fruition. I am passionate about trying to change the world with kindness. It has become my life’s work now.
SCE: What does it mean to you to drive this campaign?
GM: It is very personal. I was bullied in school because of my skin color and buried a lot of the pain of that away for years. It re-surfaced when I became a bully in Gr.8. A teacher stopped it and I am indebted to him. He changed my life from going down a path of negativity. I am a firm believer in each of trying to change the world for the better and to leave the world a better place when we leave it.
SCE: What message would like to share with all of our readers?
GM: The message I want to share is to share the campaign and participate in it. We have had many great stories shared with us and some incredible examples of outreach and lives being changed by it. That has been incredibly motivating and inspiring to us to continue what we are doing and try and expand it across Canada if we can.
SCE: We hear about bullying in schools and involving school-age kids. But it’s not just isolated to kids and school is it?
GM: Bullying is not limited to kids. It’s an epidemic and it is evident in our behavior towards each other, the aggressive nature of people trying to get somewhere in a rush, entitlement, and globally our inability to solve ancient feuds and wars between faiths, and cultures is ridiculous. We haven’t progressed very far in our level of humanity. It is discouraging but it also makes me want to do even more to get the message out, that it is not okay and that we need to be more accepting and loving with each other.
SCE: Are there any new projects musically for Glenn Marais and the Glenn Marais Band?
GM: Our main focus as a band is finishing a record, tentatively entitled, The Mojo Train. We are five songs in and starting another five at the end of this month.
What a great night. Great music. Good times and fantastic cause. The 30-Day Kindness Challenge culminates on Feb 24 with Pink T-shirt Day. But it really doesn’t end there, this is something that we all need to keep rolling the year round.
For more info about Say My Name Canada, visit their website where you can register, share your acts of kindness, download music and purchase your own Stop Bullying Now pink t-shirt.
Scott Burns, Sound Check Entertainment