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We Day returns in October -- maybe with a royal star

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Thousands of enthusiastic students packed the MTS Centre at the third annual We Day last October.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Thousands of enthusiastic students packed the MTS Centre at the third annual We Day last October. Photo Store

We Day is returning to Manitoba Oct. 29 -- could there be a royal presence?

Free the Children is taking We Day to the United Kingdom for the first time this Friday, where the highlight speaker will be a fellow named Prince Harry.

Yes, that Prince Harry.

"The Royal Family has been involved with Free the Children for years now. Prince Edward has joined us in Kenya -- he was there for the opening of one of our schools," Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger said Wednesday in an interview from London.

Kielburger said We Day will come to the MTS Centre for a fourth year, filling the arena this fall with students from Manitoba and northwestern Ontario who've made a commitment to working on social-justice projects both locally and globally.

Kielburger wouldn't give any hints about the people who will speak and perform here, but he wouldn't rule out the presence of a member of the Royal Family.

"We know We Day will be coming back to Manitoba Oct. 29 -- the short answer is, every We Day has a new mix of amazing talent," he said.

He was not aware of a royal having appeared at a public event the size of We Day, though there is heavy royal involvement in a wide range of charities.

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson is a sponsor of the London event, and his daughter, Dr. Holly Branson, is a friend of the prince, Kielburger explained. Prince Harry has a passionate interest in homelessness, the environment and Africa.

"He cares so deeply about these issues that he came to speak to the young people" at Wembley Arena, he said. "It's quite rare -- he's still an active soldier."

The London lineup includes Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for daring to attend school, and former U.S. vice-president and global-warming activist Al Gore.

"There is a lot of security," Kielburger acknowledged.

Locally, people can watch the We Day event from London online starting at 4 a.m. Friday at www.weday.com.

Prince Harry will speak at 4:45 a.m. Manitoba time "if any of your readers want to get up that early," Kielburger chuckled.

On a long list of speakers and performers will be actors Clive Owen and Jennifer Hudson, soccer player Gary Neville, Canadian singers the Tenors and Canadian actor Shay Mitchell.

"This, for us, is very exciting as a first," Kielburger said. "What it symbolizes is that We Day is truly global.

"It started in Canada. It's nice when people in the U.K. say that Canada does service (by young people) so well that they want to bring it to the U.K.," Kielburger said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2014 B2

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