Wesmor students surprised with trip to WE Day

Wesmor students react on Oct. 9 as they learn they will be flown to WE Day Manitoba by WestJet. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A group of 14 Wesmor students is being rewarded for their work as leaders in their school community.

Wednesday morning, the students were surprised by the news that they are being flown to Winnipeg by WestJet to attend WE Day Manitoba.

The students gathered in the classroom of Colette Daelick. They didn’t know why they were being brought together, or why news reporters were standing off in the corner.

They were shown a video from a previous WE Day event and shown a draft itinerary.

Daelick turned to the students.

“When we have enrichment days, I see you guys as our leaders,” she said.

She flipped to a collage of projects the students had worked on.

“These are things we’ve done — ways we’ve made our school and community a better place,” she continued.

“Fat Fridays to raise money. Food drives, cleanups, Give a little Life Day Orange Shirt Day, we always need leaders for these things. I’m trying to develop you guys into leaders. To do that, I have an opportunity for you.”

It took the students a few moments, but they began to realize what was happening — and where they would be going.

“Oh my God,” one said.

“Manitoba? What? No way,” another exclaimed.

“You guys have earned a spot in We Day Manitoba,” Daelick said.

“Our School is being flown by WestJet to Winnipeg. I don’t know how many they fly out of Saskatchewan, but we were chosen. They picked us because of the work we have done to make the world a better place.”

 Daelick told the students they had been picked based on conversations she’d had with teachers and the work she’d seen the students do in their school.”

While some were buzzing with excitement, other students sat in stunned silence.

“Wow,” one of the students said, “I’m excited.”

The students aren’t the only ones who are excited about the experience. Daelick said she’s “very much” excited for the students to have this experience.

“I think it’s going to make them feel important,” she said.

“When we used to take kids to Saskatoon to WE Day, those kids still felt important riding the bus. These kids, going on a plane, being put up in a hotel — I haven’t even told them yet that one is going to be on the screen at the event telling people where they’re from — this is going to make them feel like they really do matter, because lots of teenagers don’t think what they do matters.”

According to a news release sent by WE, Daelick and the students are being recognized “for their outstanding local and global actions they’ve taken over the last school year … As an educator, (Daelick) has been inspiring students at the school for 16 years to find social issues they are passionate about and helping them take action to create real change in their local community and beyond.”

Wesmor has been running a WE Club leadership group for over five years. According to the press release, the students are “passionate about discovering local and global social issues and coming together to raise money, awareness and create change.”

Issues they’re passionate about include food security and mental health. They’ve also fundraised over $2,000 in support of WE’s international WE Villages programs.

The WE Day Experience allows students and teachers from rural and remote communities across the country to be flown to We Days to experience “the greatest classroom in the world for a full day, live event.” The press release said. WestJet has flown over 500 students to these events. This year, 126 students and teachers will get the opportunity.

“Through the WestJet We Day Experience, we were thrilled to be able to play a part in Wesmor Community High School students attending WE Day Manitoba,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said in a written statement.

“ Through their caring actions and positive contributions to their classmates and community, these students have truly earned this experience and we look forward to their inspiring actions being celebrated at the event.”

WE Day bills itself as a celebration of youth making a difference in their local and global communities. At these events, students, who earn a ticket through their volunteer and charity initiatives, hear from motivational speakers and chart-topping musical acts.

The WE Charity, formerly known as Free the Children, was founded by Canadian Craig Kielburger and a group of his 12-year-old classmates after he read a story about a 12-year-old child labourer from Pakistan.

Students who have attended the conference in the past have returned excited to make an impact in their community.

WE Day Manitoba 2019 is set for Oct. 29. While this year’s lineup has not yet been announced, last year’s event featured Henry Winkler, who played The Fonz on Happy Days, motivational speaker Lizzie Vasquez, singer Johnny Orlando and Auli’I Cravalho, an actress who made her debut in the 2016 Disney animated film Moana.

While for many of the students, this will be their first time attending We Day, for Tanis Crain, it will be an opportunity to return to a We Day event in a slightly different setting.

The Grade 12 Wesmor student was able to attend a We Day event when she was in Grade 7.

“It was kind of fun,” she said. “I’m excited to be together with all of (my classmates) and together as one group and learn new things while we’re there.”

She said being recognized for her work as a leader makes her feel “good.”

Fellow student leader Arlen Sewap has never been to a WE Day. He is, however, one of the only members of the group who has ever been on a plane.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It’s my first time going to WE Day.”

Sewap said he’s excited to hear other people’s stories and to come together as one.

He was proud to be recognized for his work as a student leader.

“It feels good. I’ve been coming to this school for all of my school years, and I love it,” he said.

“I’m glad to be a leader in the school. People do look up to me and say ‘hi’ to me in the hallway. It’s a good feeling, being a leader.”

The students will leave on Oct. 29 and spend one night in Winnipeg before returning on Oct. 30.

Daelick said she’s proud of the students’ accomplishments.

“They were selected based on what they’ve done since coming to school here. They’re kids that either take leadership roles in front of everything, or they’re the kids you can count on to be in the background of everything,” she said.

Being chosen by WE and WestJet, she added, is a huge honour.

“They can pick from so many people and they chose little old us. I was floored.”