Fort Qu’appelle launches first Tan-Free Grad challenge in Saskatchewan

16 March 2014

Regina -

Students at Bert Fox High School in Fort Qu’Appelle will be the first in the province to take up the Canadian Cancer Society’s challenge not to tan for grad this year.   All this week over the lunch hour students will have the opportunity to declare in writing that they will skip the tan and instead graduate proudly in their own naturally coloured skin.

 “We know that for many students, part of the grad ritual means getting a tan, usually in a tanning bed.  This program helps to raise awareness about the risks of tanning including premature aging and skin cancer,” says Brett Estey, cancer control coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan.

The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned about the rise of skin cancers among young adults and the number of youth who continue to tan despite knowing the risk.  

The Tan-Free Grad challenge works by having student leaders encourage their classmates to pledge to not intentionally tan before they graduate from high school.  This challenge has been successful in several provinces with tens of thousands of students taking the pledge.  Teachers at Bert Fox High School are hoping for similar results. “We are hoping kids will sign up and take the first steps to protecting their skin.  This will create more awareness in the community which will hopefully lead to a larger provincial discussion about the need to ban indoor tanning for youth,” says Darlene Clarke, school librarian.

Clarke is particularly passionate about the project.  Her son went through cancer treatment last year.  “In his case, it was a rare cancer and its cause is unknown.  So when it’s possible to prevent cancer, such as skin cancer, it makes sense that we do everything we can to make people aware of that,” says Clarke.

To help motivate students to take the pledge, the Society will have its special Phototron camera at the school on Tuesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 20. This special camera can detect damage 3mm below the skin’s surface caused by ultraviolet radiation of the sun or a tanning bed. 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Saskatchewan. More than 3000 people are diagnosed with a skin cancer each year in the province. Using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases the risk of the melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, by 59%.  The World Health Organization classifies tanning beds as a level 1 carcinogen, the same level as asbestos or tobacco.

So far at least six Saskatchewan schools are working to get the Tan-Free Grad challenge going in their school including Regina, Weyburn, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, and Melfort.

Media contacts:

Darlene Clarke
Bert Fox Community High School

Brett Estey
Canadian Cancer Society


The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.

For more information, please contact:

Donna Pasiechnik

Manager, Tobacco Control, Media & Government Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Saskatchewan Division

Phone: 306-790-9871