We Day returns to Vancouver this year as tens of thousands of young people get the opportunity to learn about how they can make a difference in the world.
I have covered We Day over the last few years and it’s one of my favourite events. There’s dancing, singing, music, cheers, positivity and motivation.
To inspire the bright young minds that attend from elementary schools around BC each year, there’s always a star-studded line-up of speakers.
Vancouver October 13, 2011
- Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet President and Nobel Peace Laureate
- Award winning actress and activist, Mia Farrow
- NBA All-Star, Shaquille O’Neal
- Multi-platinum, JUNO and MMVA Award winning recording artists, Hedley
- JUNO Award nominated, MMVA winning Canadian band, Down With Webster
- Liz Murray, inspirational speaker best known as having been homeless in her youth and graduating from Harvard
- Platinum selling, JUNO Award winning Canadian pop icon and producer, Shawn Desman
- FRESHH, the 2011 Canadian National Hip Hop Champions & Hip Hop International Grand Finalists
- Television personality Jessi Cruickshank and MuchMusic’s Jesse Giddings
- … and more special guests to be announced…
The celebrity guests are also joined by internationally acclaimed children rights activists and co-founders of Free the Children, Craig and Marc Kielburger, along with other motivational speakers we’ve seen in past years like Spencer West and Michel Chikwanine.
A presentation of Free the Children, We Day inspires all to donate their time (or something as simply as a Facebook “Like”) to support causes locally, and globally. We Day is a free event and schools can apply to send a group (class, leadership group, team, etc.)
We Day happens in Toronto (September 27) and Vancouver (October 13) and will be touring Waterloo (November 16), Winnipeg (November 23, 2011) and Montreal (February 29, 2012 and March 1, 2012) as well. Each city has their own roster of speakers and special guests.
Update Can’t make it to We Day? There will be a live stream available online. Tune it between 9:00am and 1:00pm to see what the children at Rogers Arena get to experience and hear the inspiring words from the speakers. Both the Toronto and Vancouver events are being taped and will air on Much Music Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:00pm.
Update October 13, 2011: It’s We Day in Vancouver so this post has been promoted to the top of Miss604.com. After introductions from Mayor Gregor Robertson and Premier Christy Clark, Craig and Marc Kielburger – founders of Free the Children – took to the stage to welcome everyone to We Day. Last year they had the children chanting “Freedom!” but the theme this year had them shouting “We Are!”
The crowd learns the moves to the “We Day Dance” led by Shawn Desman.
The first guest is Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet President and Nobel Peace Laureate. Through a translator, he is telling the audience about his history, the world he knew when he was younger and when he was in office, and the change they can be in the world today. Quoting Pope John Paul II, he says it’s time for more change. “Together we can achieve a great deal. You can change the world for the better, I believe that, and I wish you success.”
Update October 13, 2011 @11:00am: Back in the Q&A press room, President Gorbachev was asked about the Occupy Wall Street protests. He said it’s a democratic right or the people. “As for America, when we see people protesting I think that means a great deal,” he told the media. “I’m sure that the Americans will be able to sort things out. I think that before trying to put the house in order in other countries, the Americans should make sure that everything is right in their own country and the human rights of every individual are protected.”
“What we have to bear in mind is that there is a reason for such protests.”
Update October 13, 2011 @11:15am: Mia Farrow was just out talking to the kids and now she’s in the Q&A room. She said she’ll never miss a We Day as long as she’s still invited. It’s her favourite event and favourite cause to be a part of. She said the atmosphere and energy in the arena with the children is electric. “Even if a fraction of them make good on the feelings they have now then the world will be a better place.”
“With knowledge comes responsibility,” says Mia. “We are what we do, not what we say.” She talked about her participation and role in campaigns and was very humble. “I’m on Twitter now and you’re supposed to write a description, who you are what you do…” she said she just put “I’m trying”.
Update October 13, 2011 @11:50am: Shaq came out on stage and got the crowd up and dancing again. Cell phones glowed as every second person in Rogers Arena started taking photos of the basketball star.
I bumped into Kris Krug briefly as he performed his ‘official photographer’ duties and followed Craig around.
Update October 13, 2011 @12:45pm: Holly Branson, daughter of Sir Richard Branson, took to the stage to talk about her experience with Free the Children. She’s the organization’s ambassador in the UK and although she was nervous (the crowd in Rogers Arena was buzzing) she delivered a great talk. At the end, Craig come out to surprise her with…. her father! He gave Holly some flowers and said a few quick words to the kids.
Reminder: If you couldn’t make it to We Day, the Toronto and Vancouver events are being taped and will air on Much Music Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:00pm.
Update October 14, 2011: After receiving some comments below about how the children get their tickets to We Day, I asked organizers to comment. This is what they sent me by email:
Free The Children is an educational partner that works closely with educators, schools and school boards to provide curriculum, resources, and support for young people to become leaders in social change. We Day is part of Free The Children’s We Schools in Action Program. We don’t provide tickets to the general public, but rather they are offered to schools involved in this year-long program. Participating schools are then responsible for selecting the delegation of youth and educators to attend We Day, based on a variety of factors as determined by the staff and administration at each respective private or public school. All students who attend, commit to being part of one local and one global action during the year. For more information on this program, visit www.freethechildren.com/weschools/
Every year, Free The Children encourages as many youth to experience We Day as possible, and for those students that aren’t able to attend we offer a variety of different ways for them to still be a part of We Day, whether it is through a live webcast of select events that airs on muchmusic.com or during the CTV/MuchMusic two hour special, which is slated to air later this month.