Monday, October 24, 2016

I am WE!

Last week I had an amazing opportunity suddenly come up, something that has been on my bucket list since I first heard about it: I went to WE Day!

WE Day is totally my thing. It's a day that is held in various cities around the world that brings people together to create positive change. It's a day for sharing ideas, learning from one another, and knowing that you're doing something very special - you're going to help make a difference for other people in this world. Now that should be everyone's thing.

See, we all have the power to make a difference. We all see things all the time that makes us say "whoa, stop, that doesn't seem right", and we come up with a way of seeing things differently. It doesn't matter who/what/where we are, we all have the power to choose to do something to improve this awesome planet of ours. We heard from a man, Joe Roberts, who became homeless in his teens, and because of someone treating him with the humanity he deserves, is now walking across Canada pushing a shopping cart to raise money and awareness for other homeless people (Push for Change). We heard from Rick Hansen, who after suffering a spinal cord injury in his teens, went on to travel Canada in his wheelchair advocating for those with disabilities. I think one of the coolest things I heard all night came from him - "See my abilities and not my disabilities". We heard from the sister of Chanie Wenjack, whose family, despite years of pain inflicted at the hands of our governments of past, still wanted to give us all a beautiful Aboriginal blessing. All of the stories were just incredible.

A few highpoints - seeing Gord Downie perform. Admittedly, this isn't my generation's music, I don't mind The Tragically Hip, particularly the older stuff, but it isn't my first choice. But I've been interested in Gord Downie since learning about his cancer and arranging to go on one final tour. I've been struggling personally to be able to get through what I need to in a day, that I look to people like Gord as a role model to what "really living" is. To be facing the end of your life and still take on incredible projects such as The Gord Downie-Chanie Wenjack Fund to shine a spotlight on the treatment of Aboriginals in our country is incredible. The strength and courage Gord Downie has shown has been nothing short of inspirational.

We heard from Hani Al Moulia, a young Syrian refugee who escaped the current war situation in his home city. When he left, he had nothing but his high-school diploma and the clothes on his back. Hani suffers from an eye condition that has left him legally blind, but yet he has a huge passion for photography. His pictures have even been displayed amongst pictures taken by professional photographers. Hani may have left with nothing, but he has earned himself a full scholarship to Ryerson and become a Youth Council member to the Prime Minister. Hani represents the opportunity that we all have to overcome our challenges. One of his best quotes of the night was "I won't let obstacles stop me, I'll just go around them!"

But We Day isn't about what any one person has done to make this world a better place. It's about how we COME TOGETHER to create positive change. If one person can make a difference, what can 20, 100, or 1000 people do when they come together? This is what the world needs, to come together. We need to see the problems that exist and more than just acknowledge them, take action. Even the best idea that any one person has, needs to have a team to get it into action. As Commander Chris Hadfield told us "From space, there are no borders separating us".