WE Day and WE Schools local programs and initiatives work to change attitudes and priorities. They empower youth and adults alike, and create a holistic learning and action-based experience for all who wish to embark on a journey to social change.
With the support of the Martin Family Initiative, WE Schools is delivering programming that will educate non-Indigenous Canadian youth and help make Indigenous issues a priority in Canada.
Through campaigns, leadership programs, inspirational WE Day events, lesson plans, video clips, blog posts and social media channels, WE Day and WE Schools are educating Canada about Indigenous cultures, histories, traditions and more.
Every year, WE Charity—through WE Schools— and the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative shine the spotlight on the successes and challenges of Aboriginal youth education in the hopes of making this issue a priority in Canada.
The campaign consists of 10 days of learning and awareness on Aboriginal history, culture and tradition, as well as the challenges and opportunities present for Aboriginal education today. It sheds light on the inequalities in education within Canada and engages non-Aboriginal youth to explore this topic and draw attention to it in their schools and communities.
Participants receive resources like daily facts, background information, engaging elementary and secondary school lesson plans, a learning activity and a presentation guide.
ME to WE, WE Charity’s partner social enterprise, offers a dynamic youth leadership program for self-identified Indigenous students: Sacred Circle. The program aims to educate and empower Indigenous youth to make change and become leaders in their communities.
Incorporating two universal Indigenous principles, the Seven Teachings and the Medicine Wheel, as well as the communities’ perspective by involving elders and Indigenous mentors, ME to WE delivers a three-day workshop aimed to empower Indigenous youth as leaders.
All program components are designed for Indigenous youth and customized to meet the needs and vision of each community.
Each year, within stadiums full of thousands of cheering young people, WE Day brings some of the greatest social issues to the forefront, and—no matter the cause, no matter the issue—provides ways in which every young person can create change.
WE Day is the perfect platform to focus on issues—like Indigenous education—that Canadian young people may not be sufficiently aware of; issues that, in order to change, need the awareness and action of the country’s younger generation.
The issues facing Canada’s Indigenous community have been brought to the forefront at several WE Day events. The organization strives to ensure Indigenous representation at every WE Day event. Thousands of WE Day participants have heard from the former Head of the Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo, Waneek Horn-Miller, Dennis White Bird, Sharn Conway, Justice Murray Sinclair and Ghislain Picard.
As part of our commitment to help engage Indigenous students in social issues and volunteering, WE Charity launched a pilot of our educational program in some of the Cree schools in northern Quebec.
Made possible through the support of the McKillen Foundation, the trial project has seen tremendous success. It offers leadership development and youth empowerment programming to help combat challenges like alcoholism, drug abuse and malnutrition—issues that many in these communities face.
Since the program was introduced three years ago, Cree students have engaged in action planning sessions, leadership workshops, team builders, and discussions on local and global issues. They have also fundraised for WE Charity campaigns, a variety of local organizations and a trip to Nicaragua to visit a WE Charity partner community. Their support of both local and global causes earned these students their way to WE Day.
With the dedication and passion these students have shown, we feel confident that these youth are becoming role models and gaining the skills they need to reach their full potential as active citizens. In time, we hope to be able to extend this opportunity to similar communities across the country.
Our Indigenous Leadership and Education programs are designed to:
Chris McLeod leads Indigenous Partnerships and Programming and has extensive experience working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, youth, and Indigenous government focusing on Education, Training, Consultations and Advocacy. Prior to joining WE, Chris worked with Right to Play developing partnerships and implementing Indigenous programming across Canada through the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth program. He has a background in leadership and group development; training youth, educators, and corporate teams including the Métis Nation Expedition that will celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial in 2017. Chris has traveled and worked in more than 75 countries and continues to work internationally as a coach and motivational speaker.
Talitha Tolles, of Métis heritage, is an Indigenous Leadership Facilitator and Motivational Speaker, and the ambassador for the WE Stand Together Campaign. This campaign is designed to strengthen ties between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal youth through learning and dialogue on Aboriginal history, culture and tradition. Talitha is a workshop facilitator and delivers Sacred Circle, a program designed to educate and empower First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth to make change and become leaders in their communities. She has a passion for travel and facilitates ME to WE trips in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Kenya, and Take Action Camp in Ontario and Arizona.
Our newest resource guide helps educators bring Indigenous Canadian history, culture and experiences into the classroom. As Canadians begin to seek reconciliation in light of our country’s dark history and mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples, educators are poised to help create the biggest shift in national and generational mindset. Help bring your students into the conversation all Canadians should be having!
“Without giving too many of your secrets away, who does your work for you on the Aboriginal team? The lesson plans are fantastic! I will be handing some of these out to our educators in the district on our Pro-D day next week as well, we sent out a link for them to sign up on. Thank you for that.”
“Students were provided with the skills to allow them to develop a project they believed would make their school, community [and] world a better place. They looked for volunteer opportunities in and around their school [and] communities where they could give back or ‘pay forward’ … The experience is one I personally would do again.”