Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2011 (3015 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Al Gore threw out a challenge to 16,000 young Manitobans this morning: when they’re his age, will the world be in an even worse environmental mess, or will they find the moral courage to change the world?
"We have to stop treating the atmosphere as an open sewer," the former U.S. vice-president told Winnipeg’s first We Day.
"Young people can do things that others have never dreamed of," Gore told the celebration of volunteerism and social justice organized by Free the Children.
Gore received an enormous ovation even before he dropped references to the Jets, Blue Bombers, and Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Earlier in the morning 16,000 kids rocked to pop singer Shawn Desman.
The organizers of We Day will launch a major campaign in February to inspire Manitoba kids to close the gap between the quality of education in public schools and First Nations schools.
"It’s mostly focused on closing the funding gap" that can be $3,000 to $7,000 per child, Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger told reporters this morning.
Kielburger said that the 16,000 students attending We Day at the MTS Centre today will be challenged to create a greater relationship between students on and off reserves.
Young people can create "a shift of consciousness" that shows all Canadians the potential of aboriginal young people, Kielburger said.
Moments before, former prime minister Paul Martin had challenged the 16,000 attending Winnipeg’s first We Day to ensure that every aboriginal child in Canada gets the opportunity for a quality education.
Students from all over Manitoba, northern Ontario, and the Northwest Territories have packed the MTS Centre for We Day, the Free the Children celebration of kids’ volunteering and fundraising for social justice causes.
Listen up kids, if you're among the 16,000 lucky enough to have earned admission to We Day at the MTS Centre this morning.
There'll be a point in the introduction when the co-founders of Free the Children international charity, the brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, will list the cities that have We Days this year.
After they say Winnipeg — can you remember that word, Winnipeg? — they'll pause, and that's your cue to yell and roar and scream and lift the roof off the rink.
Can you do it? Can you bring yourself to make noise, even though you're in a funk because you're so disappointed you're not in class this morning?
This is the first time that a We Day has come to Winnipeg. There've been five annual events in Toronto, it's been to Vancouver and Hamilton and Montreal and Waterloo, a day of music and motivational speakers that salutes students who've volunteered in their communities while raising money for Free the Children's charities through at least one local and one global project this year.
One such recently was Halloween for Hunger, in which older students went out on Halloween collecting items for the food bank.
Students from about 400 schools as far away as Churchill, the Northwest Territories and northern Ontario will be in the arena today.
Speakers include former prime minister Paul Martin, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, Canadian paralympian and icon Rick Hansen and actor Mia Farrow.
The kids probably don't want to hear about the music — say again, they do?
OK, there's the band Hedley, there's singer Sierra Noble, there's pop artist Shawn Desman, there's band Down With Webster, all of them Canadian.
Got your attention now, eh?
Organizers were uncertain if the B.C.-based Hedley might have anything to say about a Winnipeg-related event in Vancouver this coming Sunday, though they doubted the band would be wearing B.C. Lions jerseys.
Tuesday's rehearsal gave clues that several Manitoba schools will be singled out for their efforts.
Expect the Kielburgers to tell your class how you can go back to school tomorrow and plan a project that will adopt a village in east Africa, and help that village get clean drinking water.
Listen carefully when Craig Kielburger tells you: "Help someone to never need charity again."
One of the speakers will be Spencer West from Toronto, who'll tell the kids and their teachers about his plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next June to raise money to provide drinking water to 12,500 Kenyans.
All right, sure, lots of people have climbed that mountain... but how many have reached the summit whose legs were amputated at the pelvis in childhood?
"I'm focusing on redefining what's possible," West said Tuesday. He'll perform some of the climb in his wheelchair, some using his arms, and where there's no alternative, his friends will carry him.
Ever think that there's something you'll never be able to do? Give West a listen.
Organizers said students don't have to pay to get in, thanks to support from sponsors such as Winnipeg Jets' owner Mark Chipman, Free Press co-owner Bob Silver and businessman and philanthropist Hartley Richardson.
The show begins at 10:10 a.m.
We Day founders Craig and Marc Kielburger are being bowled over by the reception they're getting from Winnipeggers, they said Tuesday night on the eve of today's big event.
"We've never been greeted with such open arms as we have been here in Winnipeg," said Marc, whose wife, Roxanne, is originally from St. Boniface.
Marc made his comments in front of a crowd that included A list celebrities like former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, actress Mia Farrow, rock band Hedley, Shawn Desman and Rick Hansen.
Also in attendance were Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman, James Richardson & Sons president Harley Richardson, Winnipeg Free Press part-owner Bob Silver, Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill, Canadian Museum for Human Rights campaign chairwoman Gail Asper and MLAs Kevin Chief, Jim Rondeau and Nancy Allen.
Selinger quipped it was nice to be downtown at the Radisson Hotel where it was "safe," a jab at Air Canada, which has decided to pull its flight crews from downtown — they stayed at the Radisson — during layovers, allegedly due to crime.
The Winnipeg mayor also presented the brothers with keys to the city.
A look behind the scenes and onstage in Winnipeg during We Day 2011.
Updated on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 10:15 AM CST: Adds details of event opening
10:19 AM: adds slideshow
11:21 AM: Updates and new headline
12:14 PM: Adds info on campaign to improve education for First Nations students