This November, some Carihi students were thrilled to find themselves attending WE Day Vancouver, a unique celebration aimed at preparing young people to make positive change in the world.
“It was an amazing experience” says student Emily Milne. “It was truly inspiring to see so many young people who are committed to making the world a better and more accepting place.”
WE Day is a branch of the WE Movement, which was founded over 20 years ago by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger with the goal of bringing an end to child poverty and exploitation. Since then, the movement has expanded to include other global issues such as education, women’s rights, and access to clean water.
Carihi student Jessica McPherson says that she was surprised by the number of causes supported by the WE Movement.
“I learned a lot about the charities they have and all the programs that they are running,” McPherson says. “I didn’t realize how many different things WE actually does.”
This year’s WE Day event boasted a varied lineup of speakers, ranging from Drew Scott of the television program Property Brothers, to Margaret Trudeau, a mental health advocate and mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Iain Jeffrey, the teacher sponsor of Carihi’s Rotary Interact Club and chaperone for the trip appreciates the fact that WE Day gives a voice to a diverse group of people and opinions.
“It was fascinating,” Jeffrey says. “To see these people bringing enthusiastic messages to a huge group of kids in a stadium setting, and thinking ‘Well, maybe some people might not agree with this person, but they’re given the floor to rock the house with a bunch of kids.’”
Student Sofie Klein says that the messages from the speakers expanded her worldview by giving her an international perspective.
“The people that spoke really changed my mindset about how there are much bigger problems in the world than the little things we complain about,” Klein says.
The Vancouver event this year included a focus on young entrepreneurs, celebrating a new partnership between WE and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
“If you have an idea, big or small, that you feel passionately about,” Milne says. “RBC members will sit down with you and do everything to make your dream a reality.”
This idea of youth empowerment is central to the WE Movement’s core philosophy, which is why students have to earn their way to WE Day. Instead of selling tickets for the event, WE awards seats to schools that are making a difference in their community.
For Carihi students, this includes fundraising to support Carihi graduate Jonah Shankar in his fight against brain cancer, putting on bake sales to raise money for polio research, and travelling to Guatemala to build a house for a family in need.
“For the students, one of the takeaways is that the work that they’re doing is not going unnoticed,” Jeffrey says. “It’s a pretty handsome reward for what they’ve done.”
For more on the WE Movement, visit www.we.org