What an amazing first WE Day of the season! WE Day Toronto was an incredible and inspiring day as 18,000 student leaders gathered together at the Air Canada Centre to celebrate social change. We got to hear amazing speakers and performers, including Romeo Dallaire, Al Gore, Martin Sheen, Jennifer Hudson, Hedley, Spencer West, and of course Craig and Marc Kielburger.
Kicking off the day with an inspiring welcome, Craig and Marc’s speech fired up the crowd and set the tone for the day, centring on the power of We. “When we come together, like we do at WE Day, we’re united,” Marc said. “We are strong, We are unbreakable, and We are unstoppable. That is the power of we.”
Keeping the energy high, Hedley took the stage next, rocking the ACC with two of their most recent hit songs – One Life and Kiss You Inside Out. Always a crowd favourite, the guys had the arena on their feet with their supercharged performance.
A WE Day veteran, Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning actor and activist Martin Sheen took the stage next. A passionate activist for many social causes, he showed his support for the power of youth, speaking about the importance of young people taking action. “We’re not asked to do great things,” he said. “We’re asked to do all things with greater care.”
Having just recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with his two best friends, Spencer West knows the power that teamwork can have in accomplishing your goals. Taking the stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Spencer shared a moving story about finding his way on the mountain through a cairn, and how it inspired him to view his near-impossible climb in a new light. “There is no place on earth that showcases teamwork like all of us here today. As we all climb mountains in our life we have to give ourselves permission to ask for help. There is no can’t. There is no won’t. Only how. So let’s start climbing together.”
“Don’t ever think for one minute that you cannot succeed in making the world a better place,” began Nobel Laureate and former Vice-President Al Gore. A passionate advocate for the environment, he finished off the morning with an inspiring speech, urging youth to take action. “The will to act is a renewable resource. It lives in your heart. Wake it up!”
The afternoon was kicked off with an amazing surprise. Nelly Furtado was joined on stage by K’Naan for a surprise performance of his song Is Anybody Out There! The talented duo rocked the stage with the song and K’Naan returned later in the show for an encore performance of Hurt Me Tomorrow.
The Honourable Romeo Dallaire received a standing ovation from the crowd after being introduced by his good friend Dr. James Orbinski. “He is an example of what we can be. Romeo Dallaire is my hero,” Dr. Orbinski said before Dallaire took the stage to speak about the power this generation has to create change through technology. “You are part of a new generation that I call the generation without borders.” Technology is our tool of revolution, of activism, and can connect us to youth all over the world who are just like us. “You’re going to feel and hear and taste and listen and cry and laugh and encourage and help and build humanity because every one of us is equal.”
Marc and Craig ended the day on a personal note. Craig spoke about the power that teachers have to change the lives of their students, and create a ripple effect that changes the lives of others. To the teachers in the audience and online, he said “Thank you for believing in your students, and for working to arrange this WE Day experience for them.” Finishing up their final speech, Craig spoke to the passionate youth in the audience. “WE Day is all of you. The few, the dedicated, coming together to change this world.” Marc added: “So believe in yourself, believe in your cause and whatever issues or charities you care about and BE THE CHANGE.”
With the arena lit up in blue lights, WE Day ended with an incredible performance by Academy and Grammy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson. She started with her song Night of Your Life and finished with a moving performance of Hallelujah. What a powerful way to end the day!
Thank you to everyone who joined us here at the Air Canada Centre or watched online at www.muchmusic.com.weday. We had an amazing time and are so glad you could join us. See you in Vancouver on October 18!
WE Day is free of charge to the thousands of students and educators in attendance, thanks to the generous support of sponsors led by National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS. Young people earn their way into the event by committing to take action on at least one local and one global issue through Free The Children’s year long engagement programs. Learn more at www.freethechildren.com/weschools