Free the Children founder Craig Kielburger interviews former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Vancouver

Avril, Kofi, and Romeo: We Day Vancouver rocks Rogers Arena’s roof

Free the Children and Me to We also announced a new mobile app – We365 – for all young activists-on-the-go.



It’s hard to define We Day‘s mantra in one sliced, concise summary – after all, Free the Children admits its concerts and programs will always strive to tackle any challenge or cause it can, global and local – but here’s a shot:

On Friday, 18,000 screaming adolescents, children, and teenagers – who have all been invited by Me to We and Free the Children for service or extraordinary work in their communities and abroad – packed into Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, and were treated to a smattering of famous speakers and performers.

Some are celebrities like Avril Lavigne or Hedley, and Canadian actor Adam Beach.

“Us, here in our Western world, we can kind of find ourselves living in a bit of a bubble,” said Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard, who has accompanied Free the Children on international service trips. “There’s just not a lot of awareness and not a lot of exposure… actually taking a trip across the ocean, the other side of the world, and experiencing first-hand the poverty and the situation and how dire it, in fact, really is, you can’t help but come back with a sense of awareness that you wouldn’t have otherwise already had.

“It encourages you to be a little more sensible than you might have been otherwise, as well.”

The rest are international icons. Take former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, revered Canadian Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, or Martin Luther King III, all of whom are speaking right now at Rogers Arena. And there are a slew of Free the Children’s favourite activists and inspirational folk schedule to speak, as well, like double amputee’d Mt. Kilimanjaro climber Spencer West or the Kielburgers’ Ghana/Kenya program director Robin Wiszowaty.

Craig and Marc Kielburger were in Vancouver to lead the stadium-strong chants, too, doing their diligence psyching up a crowd of young activists for social change.

“Everything that we built, is what we wished we had when we were 12,” said Craig Kielburger, backstage at Rogers Arena. “When we were 12 and we started Free the Children, we couldn’t find a charity that would engage us as young people who wanted more than just money.

“We couldn’t find a group of peers where it was cool to care. We were practically shoved into lockers, it was so uncool… where was the celebration for good, for volunteerism for people who cared about causes?”

Also performing on Friday morning was Canadian rock band Hedley, and Hoggard followed his group’s performance with a speech and an introduction to West, a Free the Children global ambassador who was recently in North Vancouver at Grouse Mountain. Both Hoggard and West joined Craig Kielburger for Friday’s We Day press conference.

“For me, in particular, my parents were big into volunteerism from the time that I was born,” said West. “They led by example. Every year, we’d clean out our closets and donate our clothes… we made sure that we adopted a family during Christmas time and all sorts of things. It was just something that was ingrained in us from the time that we were born.

“I think, leading by example and having that freedom to choose for ourselves what we’re passionate about was the key for me, in particular.”

Free the Children announces new mobile app, We365

Free the Children and Me to We also announced the arrival of a new We Day mobile phone app – We365 – a “one-stop shop for youth to take action, providing a central hub to collect and track volunteer hours, applaud and reward young world-changers, encourage social activism and help them connect with other like-minded, young individuals” (according to We Day 2013’s handed-out media release).

“We365 allows to provide that same inspiration (as We Day does), that same education, and those challenges 365 days a year,” said Craig Kielburger. “We are incredibly excited to be kicking this off.”

(*A video of We365 is at the top of this article.)

This year, Free the Children and We Day are focusing on education and, specifically, girls’ education around the world. Education is their theme for the coming year, but Craig Kielburger told a media gathering on Friday that his organizations keep their eyes open to facing any topic they – or their volunteers and programs – would consider a challenge.

When Kofi Annan took the Vancouver stage, Kielburger interviewed him and asked the UN Secretary-General what he thought the biggest challenge facing the world was.

“I think the biggest challenge facing us and the future generations is the climate change,” said Annan. “It’s our environment… climate change is an all-encompassing threat. It’s a threat to our way of life, our security.

“We cannot continue to plunder the resources of the world as if there’s no tomorrow.”

Past Vancouver We Days have featured NBA stars and prolific personalities Shaquille O’Neal (2011) and Magic Johnson (2012), Virgin founder and billionaire business tycoon Richard Branson, and South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu.

(*See the full lineup and program for Friday’s Vancouver We Day show here.)

from We Day’s ‘Who Are We?’ page:

We Day is the movement of our time, empowering a generation of young global citizens through an inspirational event and a year-long educational initiative called We Act, which offers curricular resources, campaigns and materials to help turn the day’s inspiration into sustained activation.

We Act is the blueprint for young people to take action as agents of social change.

Why? Because we believe that we are the first generation that can truly end the worst forms of poverty, embrace we thinking and we acting and remove the barriers to youth being agents of social change. And there’s no time to waste: every single day we have the opportunity to make this world a better place. And everyone has a role to play.

How are we doing this? By pushing forward the boundaries of charity and creating change. It’s a worldwide movement that proves anyone can change the world—and revolutionizes how we make that change.

*Photos of Vancouver’s 2013 line-up from WeDay.com…

Vancouver We Day 2013 speakers and performers

We Day Vancouver speakers and performers for 2013

Photos of performers and speakers from Vancouver’s We Day 2013 (Friday, October 18, 2013)…

Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne

We Day 2013 in Vancouver BC

Marc and Craig Kielburger

Spencer West

Spencer West

Craig and Kofi Annan

Craig Kielburger and Kofi Annan

We Day 2013 in Vancouver

Craig Kielburger, Spencer West, and Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Avril LAvigne and Chad Kroeger

Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger

Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III

——————————

Also, photos of past We Day events (source: WeDay.com)

We Day crowd

We Day photo

We Day photos

We Day photos

Magic Johnson at We Day

Craig Kielburger at We Day

Jonas Brothers at We Day

Justin Biever at We Day

We Day children in crowd

Al Gore at We Day

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Police Board approves creation of municipal force at first-ever meeting

Process for hiring a police chief to ‘start immediately’: McCallum

Tree falls across road in Surrey

Crews on scene to clear the debris

Delta Nature Reserve boardwalk realignment to begin this fall

Stretch of boardwalk to be rebuilt to make room for new Highway 91/Nordel Way vehicle ramp

Cloverdale store owner giving away free face shields

Tricia Ellingsen offering more than 200 free protective shields

Restoration work puts Peace Arch under wraps

Border monument being repainted, restored

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read