We Day: a day of inspiration and change.
The main focus of We Day, which took place in Vancouver on Oct. 18, is to encourage youth and adults alike to lead in local and global projects.
Approximately 20,000 teachers and students, including more than 300 students from School District 48, packed Rogers Arena. Marc and Craig Kielburger gave inspirational speeches to kick off the day. The Kielburgers started their organization, Free the Children, when they were just in middle school.
We Day speakers included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Spencer West, Holly Branson, Magic Johnson, Demi Lovato and Cody Simpson. Each of these people shared their stories of how they overcame their hardships to become the individuals they are today.
According to Principal Margaret Paxton of Squamish Elementary School, it was a memorable day for the 22 Grade 7 students from her school who attended the event.
“They loved it,” she said. “They loved every minute of it and for 22 kids to be that engaged for five hours is pretty impressive.”
Students were selected from Squamish Elementary after being asked to write letters about how they helped to make the community a better place or about volunteer projects they've been involved in. Paxton said it was the first year for the school to be part of We Day and added that the school plans to return next year.
“We certainly hope to come back next year,” she said. “We streamed the event live in some of our other classes so students were able to watch it and get a sense of the excitement at the event.”
All 300 students who were attending We Day from SD48 slept overnight at Howe Sound Secondary School on Oct. 17. Ann Thomson, a Mamquam Elementary School instructor, said students enjoyed presentations during the evening, including one from young Squamish humanitarian Ian MacKay about his travels in Haiti, the Congo and elsewhere.
Eighteen Grade 7 students from Mamquam were among the participants, she said.
“For me, the most amazing part of the experience was watching my students get swept up in the power of WE,” Thomson wrote in an email.
The speakers at Rogers Arena thrilled the audience including NBA legend Magic Johnson, who shared his views on prejudice and how he was judged as a player when he contracted HIV. Instead of getting angry about how he was treated, he decided to educate his fellow players about what it is and how it would be safe to play with him.
Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu talked about his life under apartheid in South Africa, saying, “Racism... racism is awful. It condemns you for something about which you can do nothing.”
The event closed with the announcement of the winner of a Me to We Trip, a volunteer trip that can take the winner to India to help other kids in need, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the band One Republic with their hit single, “Good Life.”
We Day isn't just a concert ticket that you can simply buy, but one to earn through being an active leader in your community.
— With files from Ben Lypka/The Chief