Written by Lily-Ann Schneider, Student Journalist
On October 19th 2016, student leadership and music ministry students from Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood, joined together for ME to WE, and enjoyed an action-packed day at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Each year, a for-profit social enterprise called ME to WE, hosts a magnificent event in a few major cities like Toronto to give a warm hand to all the changemakers in that area. It was an eventful day filled with inspiring speeches, and well known celebrities such as, Jason Derulo, Hedley, Gord Downie, Macklemore, and Zendaya. Each celebrity delivered an excellent performance or speech, about being an ambassador of ME to WE.
A surprising performance by Macklemore, expressing his drug addiction and alcoholism, certainly opened the eyes of many in the audience. This issue affects more than five million Canadians, who are using illegal drugs and one million abusing prescription drugs. The audience was truly surprised since a majority did not even consider this a pressing issue.
The now-famous four-time Canadian Olympic medalist, Penny Oleksiak, made an appearance and delivered an encouraging speech emphasizing that “your age and size does not affect the ability to inspire and create change”. Connor Franta, a rather influential YouTuber, spoke briefly in respect to the LGBTQ+ community, and how inclusion of all sexual orientations and genders will improve if our generation continues to support them.
A highlight was when Gord Downie, the lead singer of the iconic Canadian band “The Tragically Hip” came on stage and performed a heart-wrenching song. His beautiful song was a tribute to a young indigenous boy, Chanie ‘Charlie’ Wenjack, who passed away while attempting to leave a residential school. We viewed a special clip of ‘Secret Path’, a book and film that Gord Downie is releasing along with Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire. This slow, dramatic song moved the audience more than any of the other performances that day.
Overall, ME to WE was an animated and motivating day for the students from Jean Vanier, who will continue to create change throughout our school and our community.