I first heard about We Day in 2012, when my daughter came home from high school 5 years ago and enthusiastically wanted to support the cause by buying a $10 bracelet that someone in a developing country had made. We looked online at the program together, and when I found a better way to support them through “betterworldbooks.com” by buying $400 in previously loved books. She was less impressed with this idea than the bracelet, so we ended up doing both. The bracelet still sits in it’s original box, never having been worn by my daughter, nor her younger sister. Shouldn’t we
When I read the We Day article, I was not surprised, but neither was I stirred up by the hype. In the years since it’s inception, it has grown into a glitzy, star-filled show, attracting the likes of singers, politicians, and celebrities. The big We Days are by “invitation only”, and offer an exclusive, snob-appeal approach to garnering both attention and interest. Indeed, it has become trendy to help the impoverished.
On October 14th, I had the opportunity to attend the We Day at Campbell Collegiate. This did nothing but exacerbate my feelings. The organizers stood at the front, played loud music and showed inspirational slide shows of their work overseas, with image after image of a huge, goofy, happier-than-happy grin on his face, surrounded by the local people. It was almost laughable how over the top it seemed.
The new target country that Campbell Collegiate had selected for this year is India. They proceeded to present videos on the three pillars of assistance that they could select to raise money for; Education, Food Security, or Water Sanitation.
As I watched the three videos, I could only think of Canada’s aboriginal peoples – the First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Compared to the These groups have dealt with proven education gaps, astronomical food prices and supply issues limiting their food security, and Boil Water Advisories, in some cases for over 20 years. Can We Day not inspire our youth to make the same kind of impact on our own people? There are those that desperately need our help within Canada, so why don’t we see this help?
It might be that it makes us feel good to help those in need around the other side of the world, in a different climate than our own. We are not as aware of WHY they are in that situation, so we can do something good that they themselves could not do. We can blame harsh climates, lack of tools and education to explain their need.
I wonder if we don’t want to help our own aboriginal people because we know the history that colonialists created, have lived and listened to the justification of their “problems” and this affects our empathy for their current plight.
Perhaps helping our own people would tarnish our “image” of Canada, bringing our National imperfections to light.
I do not know the answer. But although We Day supports both Local and Global initiatives, and even has a #WeStandTogether angle to help FNMI people in Canada, I am curious how often this is selected by our Canadian schools, teachers and students. I wonder if homelessness or hunger are issues that are more visible to the majority of Canadians. Shouldn’t we look first to help our Aboriginal people, who have the highest affliction rates of all these social issues? Isn’t this what “We are all Treaty People” means?
So I will leave you with these questions: What do you think is the reason we prefer to look beyond our borders to help in big ways? What will you do to change this?