In rain or shine, and mostly snow, Trevor Henson has been at the town flagpole once a year for 16 years to raise a flag he bought for Anti-Bullying Day.
For many years, Henson has been at the forefront of a kinder Collingwood.
He's one of the founders of the Anti-Bullying Club in Collingwood, which now falls under the umbrella of Breaking Down Barriers.
"I was bullied and I don't want anyone else to be bullied," said Henson. "There may always be bullying, but I can hope one day it will end."
Today (Feb. 23) Henson was supposed to hoist the flag at the Collingwood Public Library for National Anti-Bullying Day (also called Pink Shirt Day), but the chain mechanism was frozen, so the flag will be raised later. It's in the library window until it can be raised up the poll.
Henson said it's an easy choice for him to continue to raise the flag, even after 16 years.
"It brings awareness and it brings the community together, banding together against bullying," said Henson.
He spent the morning doing interviews on local radio stations, and has also reached out to MP Terry Dowdall and MPP Jim Wilson. He gave one of the flags he bought to Dowdall to be raised in Ottawa.
Wilson sent out a statement honouring Henson's dedication.
"I encourage everyone to listen to Trevor Henson’s message to practice kindness, acceptance and respect for one another, to stand up against bullying and to help build a more caring, compassionate and inclusive community," reads the statement. “We must end this disturbing problem and work every day to create a more kind and inclusive world where everyone is respectful and accepting of others, regardless of differences.”
Collingwood Town Hall clock tower will be lit up in pink lights this week to mark Anti-Bullying Day.
At the Collingwood Youth Centre, youth and staff have been busy printing pink shirts and the building will be lit up pink each night this week to support ongoing anti-bullying initiatives.
The centre's community development director, Lea Pankhurst, said the anti-bullying message is important for the youth-serving organization.
"Youth are greatly affected, but the problem goes beyond just young people," said Pankhurst. "We prioritize a respectful and inclusive environment at the centre and want to influence anti-bullying and inclusivity in schools, businesses, and sports clubs."
The youth centre will also be releasing public service announcement videos across the Collingwood Youth Centre social media channels.
Henson said he's seen some things get better in the last 16 years, and some things get worse or stay the same.
He observed an increase in bullying during the pandemic.
"Nobody wanted COVID to happen, we can't blame each other. We have to create positivity, without it there's chaos and mayhem," said Henson. "We need to think of how we were bullied, think of how we've been treated, and think before we act. Everyone has abilities, and we should appreciate them and be thankful for them."
Henson is committed to many more future flag raisings for as long as he's living in Collingwood, the town he loves. He continues to be part of the Collingwood Anti-Bullying Club.