WE Day brought celebrities and change makers together in Toronto

(By: Sarah Chew)

Once again, it’s that time of year: WE Day. This past Wednesday (Oct. 19), tens of thousands of school children, educators and family members flocked to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to witness the epic celebration of altruism known as WE Day. The day-long event is held in cities all over Canada, the United States and the UK, recognizing and encouraging youth efforts to tackle world issues. It features inspiring motivational speakers, celebrities, and families who have contributed their time and energy working for a worthy cause. This event was created by the WE Movement that’s main purpose is “to make the world a better place,” as stated on their website.

WE Charity co-founder Craig and Marc Kielburger addressing the crowd at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)
WE Charity co-founder Craig and Marc Kielburger addressing the crowd at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)

In accordance with their principles of selfless action, one cannot simply buy a ticket to attend — one must earn their way in. Schools that participated in local and global action attended the event during the day, while families who worked together to create world change attended at night.

In case you accidentally forgot to do some global service (ridding you of your ticket), or if you missed the live stream of the show on the WE website and MTV.ca, here are the main highlights of the day:

1) Paula Abdul strutting her stuff on stage

Paula Abdul speaking on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)
Paula Abdul speaking on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)

Paula Abdul, the world-famous singer/dancer/choreographer since the 80s, pranced on stage to talk about her inspiring ME to WE trip to Kenya, during which she bonded and danced with girls from the Kisaruni All Girls School.

2) Barenaked Ladies’ “Million-Dollar” performance

The Barenaked Ladies performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)
The Barenaked Ladies performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)

The Juno and MMVA Award-winning Canadian rock band had the crowd on their feet, singing along to their original song, “If I Had A Million Dollars.” The Barenaked Ladies made their performance even more spectacular by mixing in newer pop hits, such as Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” while going so far as to add a synchronized dance to the songs.

3) IISuperwomanII flies in to help girls gain access to education

Lilly Singh speaking on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)
Lilly Singh on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)

Everyone’s favourite Indo-Canadian comedian took a break from the YouTube world and appeared live and in person on stage at WE Day and WE Day Family, receiving deafening cheers and screams from the audience. Lilly Singh, a.k.a. IISuperwomanII, shared about her own life-changing ME to WE trip to Kenya, during which she was shocked by the realization that numerous girls in the developing country still lack education, or are barred from gaining access to education. She felt motivated to act, so she started her own movement, #GirlLove, which, as the name indicates, encourages women to spread love and appreciation to one another by paying each other compliments over social media. Singh said all proceeds from her #GirlLove YouTube video would go to the Malala Fund, which aims to help girls from all around the world go to school. Singh also spoke on stage about her #GirlLove Rafiki bracelets that were sold outside the theatre in the ACC. The sales from the bracelets go toward enabling girls in Kenya to have access to primary education.

4) Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen brought to tears by Alberta’s thanks

Fire Chief Darby Allen speaking on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)
Fire Chief Darby Allen speaking on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)

The fire chief who led the charge against the raging forest fire in Fort McMurray was flown in for WE Day purposely to be thanked on stage for all his efforts in Alberta. Chief Darby Allen was moved to tears by the public display of gratitude.

5) Gord Downie’s powerful performance highlighting the history of mistreatment of First Nations in Canada

Gord Downie performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)
Gord Downie performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)

Gord Downie, the frontman of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, gave an emotional and touching performance of his song, “The Stranger,” off of his new album, ‘Secret Path.’ The song and accompanying video are based on Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old First Nations boy who froze to death running away from a residential school. Downie’s haunting vocals, combined with his pantomiming of Wenjack’s death, left a deep impression on the crowd and spoke volumes about the historical mistreatment of Aboriginals in Canada. Pearl Wenjack, Chanie’s older sister, joined hands with Gord Downie, his brother Mike, and her son, and led the audience in a heartfelt Achneepineskum healing prayer. The four individuals united on stage represented the beginning of Canada’s reconciliation with indigenous people.

6) Margaret Trudeau speaks proudly of her son’s awareness of social issues

Margaret Trudeau speaking with the hosts of CTV's 'The Social' on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)
Margaret Trudeau speaking with the hosts of CTV’s ‘The Social’ on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Gabrielle Reyes/RUtv News)

Margaret Trudeau sat down with the ladies of The Social at WE Day Family and had some wise words to say about being socially aware and bringing up your children to be sensitive and caring. She expressed much pride over Justin Trudeau’s global consciousness. The most memorable part of the interview was when Ms. Trudeau freely admitted to the tens of thousands of people in the auditorium that Justin still calls her “Mummy.”

7) Hedley ends WE Day Family off with two amazing performances

Hedley performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)
Hedley performing on stage at WE Day Family. (Photo credit: Sarah Chew/RUtv News)

The much-adored Juno and MMVA Award-winning Canadian pop/rock band were a major hit with the WE Day Family crowd. Jacob Hoggard, the lead singer, voiced his belief that all people should strive to be socially active and aware and spoke about his band’s involvement in aiding developing countries. Hedley concluded the night with an energized performance of “Lose Control” and treated the audience to a mesmerizing performance of “Can’t Slow Down” accompanied by graceful backup dancers.

Word to the wise: don’t miss out on WE Day next year, so you can witness many brilliant motivating speakers and celebrities yourself!

You now have a year to do some local and/global action of your own — what are you waiting for?

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