Star-studded lineup to motivate youth at the Saddledome
Calgary is gearing up to be the center of attention Oct. 24 as We Day Alberta makes a first appearance in the province. The event aims to pack the Scotiabank Saddledome with local youth, fist-pumping and cheering for their favourite award-winning musicians and hearing motivational stories from globally-renowned speakers.
The lineup includes former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, award winning artist Shawn Desman, Canadian Paralympian Rick Hansen, and former co-host of MTV Canada's The After Show, Jessi Cruickshank.
Although this may seem like the show of the year, tickets are not being sold, they are earned.
"It's free to attend, but they earn their way in through volunteerism and service," said Craig Kielburger, international activist and founder of charity Free the Children. Youth earn a ticket to the seminar by committing to take action on one local and one global issue through the charity's year-long program.
"It doesn't matter the cause, doesn't matter the charity and doesn't matter the message," Kielburger said.
The lineup was announced Sept. 18 and will feature a collective of local and international personalities, including musicians and television stars, as well as political figures and athletes. Other performers and speakers include: Hedley, Chief George Stanley, Amanda Lindhout, Liz Murray, Jesse Giddings, Spencer West, Lights and former Calgary Flame, Theo Fleury.
Kielburger said the most important part of Free the Children is freeing kids from the idea that they are too young to make a difference.
"Every single one of us has the power and ability to make life better for someone else."
-Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Cruickshank, an ambassador for Free the Children, will co-host the event alongside Kielburger. She has travelled as far as Kenya to volunteer in communities and inspire change in Canada and across the globe.
"The best part of We Day is the thousands of young people coming together to rally for change," she said. "But it's also like a crazy rock concert. Shawn Desman is going to teach everyone the We Day dance.
"Even the coolest kids are going to be on their feet doing their swag moves."
This will be Cruickshank's sixth year participating in We Day across the globe. Cruickshank and Kielburger said that when they opened registration for We Day Alberta and within 24 hours, 40 schools had signed up.
Along with representatives from the Calgary Board of Education and main sponsors RBC and Telus, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi also made an appearance at the announcement.
"It's not just to have 18,000 people in a stadium ... but to inspire an entire generation to use our hands, our hearts, our minds, and our souls to a great cause," Nenshi said.
"Not all of us are going to be Craig Kielburger, but every single one of us has the power and ability to make life better for someone else. To me, that's the real message."
- By Vern McGill