People and Places

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau give first public speech together at WE Day Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was a surprise guest at WE Day on Tuesday. Leah Eustace was at the Canadian Tire Centre and captured this image just a few moments ago.

Thousands of students from across Ottawa came to the Canadian Tire Centre Tuesday morning for a star-studded day that was meant to inspire and motivate — but the event also managed to surprise. While the lineup for the event had been posted for some time, two special guests were added to the roster at the last minute: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau.
“This is about you being leaders today,” Trudeau said to the roar of the crowd on Tuesday afternoon. “Because what you do, what you say, the choices  you make, how you reach out … how you shape the world you’re growing up in — that is the leadership that you are showing right now.”
Speaking in both English and French, Trudeau said he wanted to remind the students that “each and every one of us is powerful” and that just by attending the event they were making a positive impact.
“It’s so easy to feel that one person can’t make much of a difference,” he said. “But that’s not true. WE day is about showing you that ‘we’ is powerful … and that together we will change the world. That’s what this is about.”
The couple was clearly a hit with the younger audience, who clapped and cheered throughout their time on stage. As they left, Trudeau was swarmed by dozens of students, all wanting to take selfies with their new Prime Minister.
“The thousands of students here today at WE Day are making our country and our world a better place. I am honoured to return to this stage, and join thousands of others, in a movement that is empowering young people by giving them the tools they need to become engaged, successful citizens,” the Prime Minster said in a press release Tuesday morning. “From a very young age, my parents taught me about the importance of volunteering. This is a lesson that Sophie and I are passing on to our kids, and that WE Day is sharing with young people across Canada and around the globe. By encouraging our nation’s most valuable asset — our youth — to be agents of positive change, we are helping them make their voices heard, and become leaders in their communities.”
International activists and WE Day co-founders,Craig and Marc Kielburger, took the state at WE Day on Tuesday morning. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
International activists and WE Day co-founders,Craig and Marc Kielburger, took the state at WE Day on Tuesday morning. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
The event opened earlier in the day with a moving video presentation featuring messages from everyone from pop stars to royalty giving motivational messages.
When asked what he liked about WE Day, 11-year-old Justin Golab simply said: “Everything.”
“It’s fun, there are shows, and it teaches us,” he added.
Eleven-year-old Belden Bizimana said the day had brought to light, “a lot of global issues that I didn’t know about” and several students who attended said they were struck by the anti-bullying message.
Students "light a spark" at WE Day 2015 at the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
Students “light a spark” at WE Day 2015 at the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
Co-hosted by television personalities Liz Trinnear and Maripier Morin, the event featured “educational speeches, inspirational moments and empowering performances” from U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife, Vicki Heyman, Rick Hansen, Henry Winkler, Lilly Singh, Simple Plan, Kardinal Offishall, Shawn Hook, Spencer West and WE Day co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger.
Actor Henry Winkler, better known to many as The Fonz from the television series Happy Days, takes the stage at WE Day. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
Actor Henry Winkler, better known to many as The Fonz from the television series Happy Days, takes the stage at WE Day. Photo by Leah Eustace, Ottawa Magazine.
WE Day co-founder Craig Kielburger and Canadian Paralympian, activist and philanthropist Rick Hansen address members of the media at the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo by Nicolina Leone, Ottawa Magazine.
WE Day co-founder Craig Kielburger and Canadian Paralympian, activist and philanthropist Rick Hansen address members of the media at the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo by Nicolina Leone, Ottawa Magazine.
U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife, Vicki Heyman, are interviewed by host Liz Trinnear at WE Day Ottawa 2015. Photo by Nicolina Leone, Ottawa Magazine.
U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife, Vicki Heyman, are interviewed by host Liz Trinnear at WE Day Ottawa 2015. Photo by Nicolina Leone, Ottawa Magazine.