WINNIPEG — On Wednesday, the MTS Centre welcomed 16,000 students from 400 schools for the first We Day Winnipeg rally in the history of the movement.
Craig Kielburger was 12 when he created Free the Children, the world’s largest network of children helping children through education. We Day, the visual tip of this powerful organization, officially kickstarts a year of services to the local and global community for all the youth invited to attend.
Like every other We Day, the Winnipeg event was part concert, with performances by Shawn Desman, Hedley, Neverest, and Sierra Noble, and part motivational speech.
“We Day is here to show that a better world is possible… We Day is the movement of our time… We Day is about social justice,” said Craig and Marc Kielburger, during their first speech.
“Do all the good you can. We are not hopeless,” continued actress and activist Mia Farrow while showing photos of starving children in Africa. “You are a wave that can change the course of history. You are the generation I have been waiting for.”
Former American Vice-President Al Gore was also among the speakers invited to the capital of Manitoba. He gave an impassioned speech on the issue of climate change: “We have to stop treating the atmosphere like an open sewer［…］Changing a light bulb is important. But changing the laws is much more important ［…］Young people can do things that others have never dreamed of.”
Local guest speakers mostly focused on the educational challenges faced by the Aboriginal community. These speakers included Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Dennis White Bird (former Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and special political liaison) and Sharon Conway (General Manager at Louis Riel Institute and Education Authority for the Manitoba Metis Federation).
Hannah Taylor, Winnipeg’s favourite teen community activist, spoke about poverty and homelessness. “The most important thing I’ve learnt is the power of caring,” she said. “We need to care. We must care… Together, we are the future and the today.” Taylor, 15, created the Ladybug Foundation in 2004 to raise national awareness about hunger, homelessness and poverty.
Michel Chikwanine, an ex-child soldier, had chosen the written word to share his painful story. He invited the crowd to stand up for children’s rights by taking a vow of silence on November 30.
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with it that counts［…］Never ever give up on your dreams,” said Rick Hansen, one of Canada’s most famous paralympians and activists. This year marks the 25th anniversary of his Man in Motion World Tour.
And never giving up is exactly what Spencer West has done. The Me to We speaker lost his legs when he was 5. “We can redefine what is possible,” he stated while announcing shortly afterwards that he would climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend next year.
CTV will show an encore broadcast of We Day Winnipeg on November 26, at 7 p.m. EST.
The next stop in the We Day tour will be in Montréal on March 1, 2012. For more information, visit www.weday.com.
Cendrine Marrouat may be contacted for potential interviews, reviews and general enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.cendrinemarrouat.com.