We returned from our field trip to Vancouver late Thursday night, and I wanted to tell you all about it!
We left for Vancouver Wednesday afternoon, and arrived at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, the school that hosts SD23 teachers and students every year. Approximately 700 students from grades 6-12, and probably 60 teachers gathered to get to know each other as well as possible, and listen to some terrific student speakers. Our own Abby Jones was one of 6 students who led the events for the evening, getting kids pumped for social change, globally and locally. This is especially cool because there are representatives for social justice from all of the schools in our district, and they have a chance to hear each other’s ideas. There was a great presentation from Aboriginal students from Kelowna and West Kelowna, who sang and drummed, and announced that they will have a 24 hour drum-athon in the spring to raise awareness for bullying. In the end the individual school groups got together to plan for the rest of the year, and we at KSS have goals to finish our fundraiser for our school in Ecuador, but to do as much as we possibly can for our school, and our local community.
The next morning we headed to Rogers Arena, where we listened to some amazing speakers and entertainers. Along with the message of improving the living situations for those in need, there was also a big focus on bullying. A lot of the presenters spoke about what they faced in their youth, and stressed the notion that we can all change the climate in our schools, and in our lives.
(Don’t read any further if you are waiting for the TV Broadcast Sunday night).
The first presenter was Magic Johnson, who explained what it was like facing teams who didn’t want to play against him after it came out that he was HIV Positive, and encouraged the audience to love others without prejudice, and treat everyone with dignity, no matter what. We also heard from Christie Clark, Mark and Craig Kielburger, the founders of Free the Children and Me to We. We heard from Justice Sinclair, the first Aboriginal Judge in Manitoba, and the second in Canada. He talked about the mistreatment of Aboriginal people throughout Canada’s history, and particularly the after-effects of the treatment of Aboriginal children in Residential schools, and how that has caused irreparable damage for the families of those children. He will be working to bring to light these issues, and keep them from being shoved into the dark recesses of our collective conscience.
We had performances from One Republic, Shawn Desman, My Name is Kay, and an absolutely inspiring speech and performance from Demi Lovato, for whom the crowd went absolutely wild. There was a surprise performance from Cody Simpson (who I was not familiar with 😀 but i’ve heard the Family Channel), who talked about the bullying he faced when he began sharing his passion for music and dancing with his peers.
At the beginning of the event, each member of the audience was given a necklace with a plastic raindrop, and we were given instructions to activate it at a certain time. We were surprised by a solo Cirque du Soleil performance called One Drop, part of Free the Children’s Water Initiative, and in the middle all 20,000 + water drop necklaces lit up, and then the illumination revolved in a wave throughout the audience, It was absolutely awesome.
We heard from Spencer West, a Free the Children Ambassador who had both legs removed when he was five years old, and who was told by his Doctors that he would “never be a productive member of society,” but has been proving them wrong for decades, and who has just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on his hands in an effort to raise money to bring clean water to communities in Africa who are without.
The highlight for me was an interview between Craig Kielburger and the Nobel Peace Laureate and social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is most widely known for his efforts in ending apartheid in South Africa. He is an amazing character, with a lovely sense of humour and a passion for peace and acceptance. I recorded his interview with my iPhone from the third tier of seats, and I apologize for the poor quality and shakiness, but it is worth it to hear him speak. Around the middle of the second video, you can see the water drop necklaces light up again.
If you have any students who went on this trip, please ask them about it!
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!