WE Day Montreal returned recently for the 9th straight year bringing together compelling speakers, dynamic performers, and innovative thought leaders at an exuberant rally at Théâtre Saint-Denis. More than 2,000 youth who filled the historic theatre in the Quartier Latin earned their tickets to WE Day Montreal by taking action to help others in their local communities and around the globe. High school students and educators were bused in from all over Quebec to attend WE Day Montreal’s annual event billed as the “largest celebration of youth empowerment for social good.” Students and teachers participate in We Day activities through free service-learning programs in WE Schools. National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS, and partners made it possible for thousands of young change-makers to attend WE Day Montreal.
Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques joined WE Day Montreal live from the International Space Station for an interactive question and answer segment with the audience. “The space sector is approached somewhat like the WE movement,” he said. “We’re a large global community and we work hand in hand to accomplish projects that are bigger than ourselves. And for me, it is a huge source of pride. It gives me hope for our kids and the future of humanity. Our achievements in space are proof that we’re capable of working together; of moving past our differences towards a common goal; and accomplishing extraordinary things.”
Hosts Chloe Wilde, etalk Reporter, and Tyrone Edwards, etalk Reporter, took the stage to kick-off WE Day’s four-hour program featuring true stories of courage and determination in the face of adversity. Video-journalist and social-media influencer Fariha Naqvi-Mohammed of CityNews Montreal recounted her own painful experience of being bullied and belittled as a young girl. This led to an 18-year change-making journey resulting in her decision and choice to wear the hijab as a symbol of pride and embrace of her cultural identity. “Be the change you needed when you were young,” she said to applause. Hip hop artist, SonReal, rocked the stage performing My Friend and Problems for the cheering throngs of teenage fans waiving light-up bracelets.
Local youth speakers talked about important topics that have impacted young people in Montreal and beyond including diversity, overcoming socioeconomic barriers, addiction, homelessness, and suicide. More than a one-day event, there were also videos about WE Day’s year-long global mission. These included presentations about WE Scare Hunger and WE Walk for Water, two action campaigns that help to combat food insecurity and ensure access to clean water for developing communities. “We’re beyond grateful to return to the WE Day stage to perform for such an inspiring group of kids,” said Adrian Morris and Frank Cadillac, from Halifax Hit-makers, Neon Dreams. “Their dedication all year long in leading the charge for the causes they’re passionate about is so impressive and leaves us hopeful for the next generation.”
Feature image: Nalie Agustin, Author, YouTube personality and Speaker shares her story with 2,000 youth and educators at WE Day Montreal on February 11, 2019 at Théâtre St-Denis. Credit Loic Fortin for WE Day