We Day Vancouver 2011

Comments 16 by Rebecca Bollwitt

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.

We Day 2010

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.

We Day

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.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mia Farrow Dr Jane Goodall

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 2010

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.

We Day 2011

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!”

We Day 2011

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.”

We Day 2011

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.”

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev

“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.”

We Day 2011 - Mia Farrow

“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”.

We Day 2011- Shaq on stage

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.

We Day 2011

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.

Related posts: We Day Vancouver 2010, We Day Vancouver 2009.

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16 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JacquieFriday, September 9th, 2011 — 8:01am PDT

    Hey Rebecca, Thanks for posting this! You should see the kids when they return from this event. They are so inspired and informed. It’s like sending them out to save the world! Free the Children and the Kielburger’s are pretty much awesome. Following Craig on Facebook is, in itself, inspiring beyond measure.

  2. alyshaSunday, October 2nd, 2011 — 4:16pm PDT

    hi im alysha i live in vancouver im in 5 grade and im going to we day this year and my school did a five day event just for free the children

  3. graemeTuesday, October 11th, 2011 — 11:38am PDT

    Is there a way to get into Weday Vancouver? My 2 daughters have been looking everywhere online….Hopefully you can offer some feed back.Thank you so much 🙂 My 12 yr old is planning to to a ‘can instead of candy’ on halloween where she collects food for the local food bank!

  4. Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604 Rebecca BollwittTuesday, October 11th, 2011 — 11:40am PDT

    Hi Graeme,

    I believe the kids are all signed up through their school. It’s either student groups (like a leadership committee) or certain classes that get to participate. You might have some luck if you contact their school.



  5. sparkles612Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 — 5:10pm PDT

    if you want to get tickets your school have to be participating in the program and some schools requires that only some people chosen can go

  6. Brandon MThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 9:57am PDT

    And Rebecca, that is exactly where the problem lies….who gets the tickets? I am amazed that more people do not raise this issue regarding We Day.

    We Day is a wonderful event but we must remember that it is also one charity’s private event. I have found in most school boards they are subjectively choosing kids from clubs. This is entirely unacceptable. Public Schools must be fair and equitable to all students. Imagine telling kids that only those students in the Leadership Club could participate in the Terry Fox Run?

    Joining a club in a public school system does not give students right or accessibility to preferential treatment (or at least it should not) by staff. There are many students who do not join clubs for various reasons (some personal, some academic, some have jobs after school, etc) who still have many valid interests and should not be eliminated from the chance at getting We Day tickets. Indeed, many of the kids in the clubs already have the interest and We Day is simply ‘preaching to the converted’. Let’s give the kids that would never be given the opportunity to attend We Day a chance too and see if a spark can light a flame.

    I would personally like to see the public School Boards promoting We Day but not handing out the tickets. Allow Free the Children to offer the tickets themselves on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis not unlike a rock concert and everyone has the same chance at getting the tickets. We must be fair to all students. That is the spirit of We Day itself!!

  7. Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604 Rebecca BollwittThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 11:19am PDT

    Hi Brandon,

    That was my understanding but I’ll see if I can get someone from We Day to address your concern or at least clarify who can get tickets.

    Those who can’t attend can watch the live stream or the re-broadcast as well. I know it’s not the same as being here but they can get the messaging from the speakers.

  8. SandraThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 11:21am PDT

    Selling tickets wouldn’t be fair because those with limited income might not be able to afford it. Allocation and a lottery would be a more fair way to distribute the tickets.

  9. Brandon MThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 12:49pm PDT

    Completely agree Sandra! My suggestion of a ‘first come first serve’ would be without cost or perhaps a small donation to the cause.

  10. DeidreThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 1:30pm PDT

    My daughter found out about thru her high school – but couldn’t go as a school group b’cos of the strike thats on. Maybe next year tho! Its am impressive event – thank you for covering it!

  11. JennyThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 2:03pm PDT

    It looks like a great event, regardless of who gets the tickets. The kids that are there and experiencing it are benefiting for the positive message which they will take into the world with them. Any child can join a leadership club and I know that at my kids’ school it is something they do during class hours.

  12. AshleyThursday, October 13th, 2011 — 7:43pm PDT

    I read a few quick comments about tickets…

    We Day is intended for kids who’s school’s are a part of the ‘schools in action’, which they sign up for through Me to We/ We Day.

    Schools have a selected amount of tickets. Yes, in most cases these tickets are handing to certain clubs or groups within the school. In many cases, though, it is a leadership group or a group of kids who will take what they learned back to their school and apply it.

    If school’s allowed the tickets to go to anyone, eventually they would just go to waste.

    Many kids will attend just for performers (such as Hedley or Down With Webster) and miss the reasons why We Day happens. Which is, I think, why tickets are not open to the public.

    In a way it is not fair, but at the same time, We Day is intended to inform the youth who will take this information, soak it up, learn from it, go back to their school, spread the word there, and help make changes.

  13. Brandon MFriday, October 14th, 2011 — 9:31am PDT

    As I have already noted, We Day is absolutely a wonderful event without question. And the kids who attend most certainly do benefit from it. But regardless of whether or not the event is ‘great’ is not the issue. There are many ‘great’ events during the school year. The issue is that the process of distributing the tickets to a private event in a public school system must be fair and equitable. If it is not going to be fair, then the actual reason for attending We Day is diminished, in my opinion. It is also a clear infringement of students’ rights. Remember, We Day is a private event and not funded by the various public school boards.

    For example, we have several Autistic students in our public school who will never have opportunity to experience We Day. We have several modified classes for kids with social issues that will never experience We Day. Why? Because they choose not to join a club or were not chosen as Student Leaders? Many of those kids have TONS to offer Free the Children in their own special way. Do we just choose the students who can speak well, write well, and vociferously promote themselves and the charity? Is that what ‘Student Leaders’ are?

    For clarification, Free the Children does not pick the students who get We Day tickets (although, amazingly, they have offered suggestions to teachers on how to pick students in some of their on-line packages). The tickets are delivered to the schools and the Staff at the school subjectively pick the students who get the tickets. Public School Boards are public entities and do not work for Free the Children. Teachers have no right whatsoever to choose students based on subjective criteria for a private event.

    Rebecca, you noted a live webcast by Free the Children. For your info during our last We Day in Kitchener (on Feb 2011, Kitchener, Ontario) there was no live webcast for the kids back at the schools as Free the Children ‘couldn’t make it work’. I have been in contact with Free the Children myself over this issue. Please feel free to confirm this information. Again, this should never have happened.

    So while We Day is an amazing event, there are flaws (and solutions) that should be addressed by Free the Children. Either way, Public School Boards have no authority to choose students on subjective criteria for a private event. It is that simple.

  14. JanetFriday, October 14th, 2011 — 3:13pm PDT

    I spoke to a friend of mine whose daughter went to we day and she was also part of the metowe group at her school. maybe it really should be open to all students as this does seem a little unfair. i like the lottery idea.

  15. BrandonMSunday, October 16th, 2011 — 8:43am PDT

    Thank you Rebecca for requesting a response from Free the Children. I have researched the issue of We Day tickets for some time and I am not surprised by their response. I am fully aware that the students are being hand picked by staff at the schools.

    I implore all parents to make contact with your respective schools and ask how the kids are being chosen.

    And Jenny, I noted your comment ‘It looks like a great event, regardless of who gets the tickets…’ You might change your opinion a little if you stood in front of a group of young grade 6 students that will never be part of a Leadership Club for various reasons and try to explain to them why they were not chosen to attend We Day.

    Sometimes we have to stand up and say something is wrong even with a ‘great event’.

  16. Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604 Rebecca BollwittSunday, October 16th, 2011 — 9:15am PDT


    Jenny has 5 kids and every year I tell them about We Day and every year, they can’t go through their school. Yet, she still posted here saying it’s a great event. Sometimes we recognize things simply for what they are, regardless of our participation. I think if you’re doing volunteer work and supporting causes in order to simply get a reward, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

    I didn’t get to go to events when I was in school even though I was in every club imaginable. We Day, or anything remotely similar, didn’t even exist although my school raised thousands for local causes.

    They have their system, and maybe they’ll work out any kinks to make sure there’s a different or more broad selection process. Maybe they’ll add more cities on their tour in the future, I don’t know.

    I appreciate your feedback – and We Day organizers are aware of your concerns – however I will be closing the comments after this.

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