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We Day draws celebs and 20,000 young people

Celebration at Air Canada Centre addresses Syrian refugee crisis, youth depression

On Oct. 1, more than 20,000 young people came together to celebrate We Day at the Air Canada Centre.

We Day is an annual youth empowerment celebration that takes place in cities across the Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

This year’s celebrations in Toronto brought in speakers such as Henry Winkler, Marlee Matlin, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Joseph Boyden, and Annaleise Carr.

Founders Craig and Marc Kielburger got on stage to get the crowd excited and introduce the show. They encouraged the crowd to believe they are powerful.

One volunteer, Elliot Miville-Deschênes, 12, who started a Free The Children club at his school was one of the hosts for the show. Other hosts included actress Nina Dobrev, singer Demi Lovato, motivational speaker Spencer West, and MUCH hosts Liz Trinnear and Tyrone Edwards.

We Day did not fail to bring light to some of the harder topics. Leen Al Zaibak, who is co-founder of Syrian advancement organization Jusoor, discussed the recent drowning of three-year old Alan Kurdi. She held a moment of silence for him and continued to speak about the Syrian refugee crisis and how everyone in the room can help.

“We can give our voice to the voiceless, Alan didn’t have a voice,”Al Zaibak told the crowd. “Get friends and family to sponsor you for every hour you go quiet for a cause close to your heart.”

Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden also got up on stage to let the crowd know about his darker days when he self-harmed and was diagnosed with depression.

“Let’s treat the mental health issues like we do physical ones, treat them with kindness and emphathy, with concern and care,” Boyden told the crowd. “The time has arrived to think different about something that could affect any of us at any time.”

This year’s show was also filled with star-studded performances to keep the energy up. Hozier, Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, and Carly Rae Jepsen were a few of the artists who put on a show for the young crowd.

The event trended number one on Twitter across Canada, and continues to grow in popularity each year.

To watch the show from beginning to end, you can tune-in to the special broadcast premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 25 on MTV.