And they thought to themselves, what a wonderful world.
Louis Armstrong’s legendary song, What a Wonderful World, was among the highlights of École Henri-Bergeron’s recent "Oui" Day event, when it was among the musical numbers performed by the French immersion school’s choir at the May 9 event.
The event was inspired by the Henri-Bergeron’s two-year association with Free the Children and We Day and marked the school’s involvement with social justice activism.
Members of the school’s leadership club — made up of Grade 5 and 6 students — had a starring role in the event, as students took turns to describe various school projects focusing on organizations such as World Vision Canada, the Ladybug Foundation and the Salvation Army.
Speakers included Beverly Ajtay from Siloam Mission, who talked about the facility and the importance of raising awareness about the city’s homeless population.
"I want to get you guys to think about home and what makes a home," Ajtay said. "Family, a warm bed, food, safety, love. Homelessness is often about being without these things."
Students presented Ajtay with a cheque for Siloam for $421, which was raised by school fundraising events. "This will cover 135 meals," said teacher and key organizer Kevin Dilk during the presentation.
Speaking before the event, Dilk said the school community has been "very generous" in its ongoing fundraising efforts.
Shakur McCurdy, 11, said being involved in the school’s leadership club has inspired his social activism.
"It’s awesome to help people. My mom is an activist, so this has inspired me to be more like her. I hope that, one day, things like poverty (will) disappear."
Nathaniel Ducharme, 12, said the We Day movement has helped increase his awareness of key poverty issues.
"Everybody can unite and take action and learn how a lot of people in the world don’t have houses to live in," he said. "It made me realize I’m very lucky to have a family that gives me a home and three meals a day," he said.
Rhyan Gannon, 11, said she has realized the collective power of raising awareness within the school community.
"It’s about people like us, people in elementary school, really understanding what it’s like to not have food," she said.
"And if we all give, we can make a huge difference. I always knew there were people who didn’t have the things we have, but I was surprised at how many."
Also at the event was Lucka Jouthe, a student from the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince doing her master’s degree in school administration. Jouthe is scheduled, along with fellow student Nocent Labady, to spend two weeks at the school (including two days at Université de Saint-Boniface) learning about the education system in Winnipeg.
"They will present to students in the classroom and learn about classroom management and positive discipline techniques," said Henri-Bergeron’s principal Florence LaPointe.
"It’s a wonderful program," LaPointe said, noting the school also raised money during the event at a bake sale to buy school supplies for the Haitian students to take back with them.