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In Canada on September 30, 2010 at 23:42
Back to K’naan inspires at We Day celebration

K’naan inspires at We Day celebration

September 30, 2010

Chloé Fedio

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More than 18,000 young people, above, showed up at We Day celebrations to watch performers such as Jacob Hoggard, left, lead singer of the band Hedley, at the Air Canada Centre Thursday.

COLIN MCCONNELL/TORONTO STAR

The chanting began at 8:30 a.m. as students filed into the Air Canada Centre and it didn’t let up until K’naan took the We Day stage at more than five hours later.

It turns out at least 18,000 youth in Toronto know every single lyric to K’naan’s songWavin’ Flag.

“When I get older, I will be stronger. They’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag,” students sang as they waved their arms from side to side.

Free The Children’s We Day is more than just one day of celebration and inspiration. It’s a one-of-a-kind event and part of an innovative year-long program created to celebrate the power of young people to create positive change in the world.

We Day is a day-long event with speakers and performers that kicks off a year-long program of action called We Schools in Action. The program helps students develop and implement one local and one global project to help youth who do not have access to basics like food, clean water and education. The goal is to encourage young people to take local and global action throughout the year.

Speakers repeatedly told the young crowd that they have the power to solve some of the globe’s most-pressing problems.

Students cheered for Canadian Olympic gold medalist Alexandre Bilodeau and for Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who told the youth about drinking fresh cow’s blood with Maasai warriors on a recent trip to Kenya.

“That was some real National Geographic,” he said.

But it wasn’t only celebrities that caught the attention of the young crowd. They listened intently to best-selling author Deepak Chopra’s message of peace and gave a standing ovation to Cherie Blair, human rights lawyer and wife of former British prime minister, Tony Blair.

We Day helps makes caring cool for a new generation of Canadian youth, said Free The Children co-founder Marc Kielburger, who recalled being shoved in a locker after calling on his classmates to fight poverty years ago.

On Thursday, Marc and his brother Craig challenged students from 1,200 Toronto-area schools to become “shameless idealists” like them.

“I believe schools have to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but I also believe they have to teach about compassion, they have to teach about gratitude, and they have to teach global active citizenship,” Craig Kielburger said.

The international children’s-rights activists take We Day to Vancouver and Montreal later this fall.

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