On Nov. 23, 16,000 youth gathered at the MTS Centre to witness Winnipeg’s first We Day, an initiative of the charity Free the Children to celebrate youth activism.
The crowd was filled with very energetic students and teachers, signs held by students in support of the event, and volunteers all surrounding a central stage.
Throughout the event students viewed several videos, participated in the “We Day dance,” enjoyed musical performances and listened to a variety of notable speakers, each with a different issue to talk about.
With the theme of youth activism in mind, each speaker recounted their experiences with volunteerism all over the world.
Mia Farrow, actress and activist, shared her experience traveling to Africa and witnessing a new school built by the efforts of Free the Children. She told students she has faith that youth have the power to change the world.
“You guys are the architects of the future. You are the generation I have been waiting for,” she said
In an inspirational speech by Al Gore, the former vice-president of the United States, the global climate was called to attention. He explained to the crowd the need for more renewable energy sources and stressed that people can contribute to a more environmentally sustainable society, even if it is just a small part.
Gore also shared a story about when he was a young boy. He said he witnessed social injustice and saw the civil rights movement take place by people joining together to make a difference. He used this as an analogy about global warming.
“Changing the light bulbs is important, but changing the laws is more important,” he pointed out.
Winnipeg’s own Hannah Taylor, founder of the Ladybug Foundation, also took part in the event, expressing her belief in caring and that age is not a factor in what a single person can do.
Co-founders of Free the Children, brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, were the last to speak, explaining why they felt We Day was important not just as an event but as a movement.
“We Day is a year-round movement and students can make a difference,” they said. The brothers explained students can make a difference by taking issues close to their hearts and taking action by “living ‘we’ everyday.”
When students take action and get others involved and those other people get involved and so on, the world is a step closer to becoming a better place — that is the “power of we,” the brothers said.
Students and schools that continue with their efforts to make the world a better place can earn a seat to attend next year’s We Day event.