We Day Vancouver Mainstage
|Location(s)||Toronto, Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Saskatchewan, Atlantic Canada, Seattle, Oakland, Chicago, New York City, Boston|
|Organised by||Free The Children|
We Day is an annual "youth empowerment" event organized by the Free the Children charity. Held in cities across Canada and the United States, We Day motivates youth to take action on local and global issues. Since 2007, thousands of Canadian students have attended We Day events, which feature speeches and performances from global leaders, social activists and public figures. Each student group that attends is asked to make a commitment of one local and one global action throughout the year in order to help create positive change in the world.
The event also has one of the largest nonprofit Facebook pages in the world, with over 3 million likes. The associated "1 like = 1 dollar" fundraising campaign, where sponsors of the event donated one dollar for each like on the We Day page, raised over 2 million dollars for Free The Children.
Free the Children is a children’s charity founded in 1995 by child’s rights advocate Craig Kielburger. We Day was created to “empower, educate, and above all, inspire”. Since 2007, this annual event has featured a lineup of social activists, speakers and musical performances. It is the start of a year-long initiative encouraging students to participate in Free the Children’s campaigns, which raise awareness and funds for local and international projects.
We Day is a free event for all students. To earn entry, schools must pledge one local and one international difference-making effort to pursue over the school year. However, Free the Children only provides a limited number of tickets to each school and leaves the method of student selection to the respective schools. The transportation for students to the event and associated coverage costs for teachers are not covered by Free the Children or their sponsors.  Free The Children has tracked their efforts. By 2009, students had pledged over $5 million to local, national and international charities and donated over 150,000 volunteer hours.
We Schools in action
We Day initiates a year-long series of actions by youth to change the world. Schools who participate in We Day are asked to undertake one local and one global action for change during the course of the year. Attendance at the event is free of charge, and in return all schools are asked to follow through on their commitments to these actions of change.
Free the Children has tracked the efforts of these students, and in the 2009/2010 school year students raised $3 million for global action projects, $1.5 million for local action projects and have logged over one million hours of community service.
We Day events
1st edition (2007)
The first We Day took place on October 19, 2007 at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum and involved more than 7,500 youth. The participants were students in grades 7 through to 10 from more than 500 schools in the Greater Toronto Area. Speakers at the event included Justin Trudeau, Senator Romeo Dallaire, Irshad Manji, Jessi Cruikshank and Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury. Performers include Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo and Hanson. The event was broadcast across Canada via a live webcast produced by MTV.
2nd edition (2008)
Free the children second We Day took place on October 17 at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum. It involved more than 8,000 students in grades 7 through to 12 representing 600 schools and 40 school boards. The event was hosted by Ben Mulroney and Tanya Kim of eTalk. Speakers for the day included Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger, Mia Farrow, Justin Trudeau, celebrity designer Nate Berkus, Jessi Cruickshank, the cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and former Prime Minister of Canada John Turner.
Performers included Sarah McLachlan, Crash Parallel, the Canadian Tenors and Canadian Idol winner Theo Thames. A live webcast of the event and a one-hour special was carried by CTV. Participants were asked to take part in the 100-School Challenge, a fundraising initiative that challenged students to raise enough funds to help Free the Children build 100 schools around the world.
3rd edition (2009)
For We Day 2009, Free the Children held two separate events. On September 29, 2009 16,000 students attended We Day in Vancouver to hear speakers including the Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall and Mia Farrow. Performers included K’naan, Sarah McLachlan and Jason Mraz. The Dalai Lama spoke to the crowd about making the 21st century peaceful. He shared the following with the crowd: "Peace does not mean no longer any problem, no longer conflict. Some form of differences, some form of conflict, (is) always there…Now peace means when there is possibility of conflict or violence, using our common sense and... compassion." On October 5, another 16,000 students attended We Day Toronto. Speakers included holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike "Pinball" Clemons, former Prime Minister Paul Martin and founder of Participant Media Jeff Skoll. Performers include Hedley.
The event also included a surprise performance by the Jonas Brothers. The brothers appeared on a taped message broadcast throughout the stadium before they stepped out on stage to perform a two-song set. Both events were carried by CTV on live webcast. The broadcaster also aired a two-hour highlight special on October 10, 2009. The 2009 Free the Children initiative introduced at We Day is called the 10 by 10 Challenge. The initiative aims to have student raise $10 and log 10 volunteer hours. This will help raise funds to fully develop 10 villages located in Africa, South America and Asia. The Kielburgers estimated that this program will impact 100,000 people.
4th edition (2010)
We Day 2010 kicked off in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on September 30. Among the speakers were Jacob Hoggard of Hedley and Alexandre Bilodeau. Performers included Down With Webster, Greyson Chance and K'naan. 18,000 students attended with their schools. This edition was highlighted by the introduced the We Day dance, a choreographed dance in which the entire audience participated multiple times over the course of the event.
On October 15, We Day returned to Vancouver. Over 18,000 students attended. Jesse Jackson, Martin Sheen, and Al Gore were among the speakers. Barenaked Ladies performed two songs including their new song "Four Seconds", and the hit "If I Had a Million Dollars". Stereos performed as well. The first bilingual We Day was held in Montreal on November 12 at Theatre St. Denis with an audience of 2,000 students. Performers include Simple Plan and Shawn Desman, and speakers such as astronaut Marc Garneau spoke to students.
5th edition (2011)
We Day 2011 started in Kitchener, Ontario, on February 17 to an audience of 6,000 student leaders. Speakers included Craig and Marc Kielburger, with performances by such artists as the Barenaked Ladies. We Day Toronto took place at the Air Canada Centre on September 27 with 18,000 youth in attendance. Speakers included Danny Glover, Mary Robinson, Dr. Patch Adams and Waneek Horn-Miller. Performers included Kardinal, Classified and City and Colour.
We Day Vancouver was held on October 13 with 18,000 youth at the Rogers Arena. Speakers included Shaquille O’Neal, Mia Farrow and Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet President and Nobel Peace Laureate. Performers included Hedley and Down with Webster. The second We Day event in the Waterloo Region happened on November 16 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium with 6,000 students leaders. Speakers included Magic Johnson, Mia Farrow and Roméo A. Dallaire. Performers included The Midway State, Neverest and Shawn Desman. Winnipeg’s first We Day event took place on November 23 at the MTS Centre with 16,000 youth in the audience. Speakers included the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore, Hannah Taylor, Mia Farrow and Rick Hansen. Performers included Hedley, Down with Webster and Neverest.
6th edition (2012)
We Day 2012 was the biggest to date with We Day Toronto, We Day Vancouver, We Day Alberta, We Day Manitoba, We Day Waterloo, We Day Montreal, We Day National & We Day Halifax. We Day Toronto took place at the Air Canada Centre on September 28, 2012. It was attended by 20,000 youth and educators. Speakers and performers included Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, Al Gore, Hedley, Justin Trudeau, Martin Sheen, and Shawn Desman. We Day Vancouver took place in Rogers Arena, on October 18, 2012.
The first We Day in Alberta took place at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, on October 24, 2012. It was attended by 18,000 students and speakers included Liz Murray, Spencer West, Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger, Larry King and Martin Sheen. Performers included Hedley, Marianas Trench, Lights and Tim Hawkins.
7th edition (2013)
- Main event
The biggest event, in Minneapolis, happened in October 8, 2013 and was televised. It was presented by American actresses and singers Bridgit Mendler and Debby Ryan and Canadian presenter Jesse Giddings. The event was supported by artists Jonas Brothers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Demi Lovato and the personalities Barbara Pierce Bush and Mark Dayton.
- Other dates
|Toronto||Canada||September 20, 2013|
|Minnesota||United States||October 8, 2013|
|Vancouver||Canada||October 18, 2013|
|Calgary||October 24, 2013|
|Manitoba||October 30, 2013|
|Saskatchewan||November 6, 2013|
|Waterloo Region||November 20, 2013|
|Montreal||November 25, 2013|
|Atlantic Canada||November 27, 2013|
|London||United Kingdom||March 7, 2014|
|Seattle||United States||March 21, 2014|
|California||March 26, 2014|
|Ottawa||Canada||April 9, 2014|
8th edition (2014)
- We Day on Facebook
- Irish, Paul. “Listen, learn and be inspired,” Toronto Star, Oct. 18, 2007 http://www.thestar.com/Special/Article/267634
- Serda, Victoria. “Be part of We Day in Toronto today,” GreenNexxus. Oct. 5, 2009. http://www.greennexxus.com/post/2009/10/Be-part-of-We-Day-in-Toronto-today.aspx
- Dale, Daniel. “Star-filled We Day gets youths fired up,” Toronto Star. Oct. 6, 2009. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/705985--star-filled-we-day-gets-youths-fired-up
- Irish, Paul. “Rallying to spark change,” Toronto Star. Oct. 16, 2008 http://www.thestar.com/SpecialSections/article/517384
- Paul Irish: Rallying to spark change. Toronto Star. October 16, 2008.
- “National Me to We Day.” CTV News. Oct. 16, 2008.
- Lori Culbert and Mary Frances Hill: “’Social change is possible’ 16,000 learn at We Day,” Vancouver Sun. September 30, 2009.
- Sunny Dhillon: “B.C. youth, Dalai Lama mark We Day,”. Cnews. September 29, 2009.
- “Jonas Brothers give surprise performance at ‘We Day’ event,”. Celebrity Mania. Oct. 6, 2009.
- "Photos: Debby Ryan, Bridgit Mendler And More At “We Day” Minnesota". Disney 411. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- "Carly Rae Jepsen, Bridgit Mendler and Demi Lovato announced to join headliners the Jonas Brothers and Mia Farrow at We Day Minnesota". We Day. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- "2013/2014 We Day Events". We Day. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- "Selena Gomez to Host We Day Vancouver!". We Day. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.