TreadRight’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration in Toronto with the Most Amazing Advocates and Storytellers
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~
Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Greetings from Los Angeles.
Celebrating 10 Years of Making Travel Matter – Retrospective
On October 17th, we hosted our TreadRight 10 Year Anniversary celebration in Toronto with our Travel Corporation (TTC) family of brands. It was a meaningful retrospective of some of our 50 sustainable projects which we have supported worldwide through storytelling, video, dance and interactive displays.
It has been a remarkable ten years. We have achieved quite a bit and have learnt much about our world and how to make a small difference by the projects we choose to support each year. We also realize today, more than ever, how much there is to do. We are reminded of this from continuing to work on the UNWTO’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), supporting more women’s empowerment projects around the world, more WE Charity and ME to WE initiatives, more work to help support and protect more endangered wildlife initiatives, and keep reducing our footprint and reliance on single-use plastics.
The WE Global Learning Center
Our 10 year anniversary event took place at the WE Global Learning Center, the international headquarters for our partners, WE Charity and ME to WE. The Center is a community space and innovative hub with state-of-the-art facilities housed in a heritage-certified building which offers service-learning and leadership programs for youth, families and educators who want to transform the world. It also houses the WE Incubation Hub, where young people can take part in the Social Entrepreneurship Program. It was the perfect venue to host our special celebration.
It is a phenomenal, very interactive space they have built, which is also used to host events like the one we held there, which in turn further supports their projects. I was very impressed with being in the center again. Everyone is engaged, focused on their work, and welcoming. One gets to see firsthand the huge, positive impact WE is making around the world, in various locations through their development work – Kenya, India, Ecuador, Yemen, China, Tanzania, etc. WE currently works in nine countries globally and three through domestic programming including WE Schools and WE Day in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Losani Family – Founding Visionaries of the WE Global Learning Center
In 2017, I experienced one of my most purpose driven travels on ME to WE’s Kenya trip with my family and made some wonderful friendships with other guests including the wonderful Canadians, Fred Losani, his lovely wife, Shelly and their children who we worked side by side with to help build parts of the college which WE is building there.
Through their generous support, the Losani Family is one of the Founding Visionaries with the building of the WE Global Center. We were so pleased to have Fred and Shelly join us for our TreadRight event. They take a number of their friends with them each year on a ME to WE trip, to introduce them to the fine work being done by the charity, and to inspire them to get involved too. Keep up the great work Fred and Shelly!
For our TreadRight event, we created a line-up of the most inspirational storytellers and advocates including:
Sarain Fox – Ambassador for the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School
Sarain Fox is an Anishinaabekwe advocate, choreographer, dancer, and award-winning documentary television host. She is the host of the VICELAND shows, Rise and Cut-Off and APTN’s Future History.
A gifted storyteller, Sarain creates meaningful discussion between her Indigenous community and settler communities. She is also an Ambassador for the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School which is one of our TreadRight “People” projects where Indigenous youth can learn the art of mukluk-making.
The Storyboot Project helps restore this traditional art form by fostering partnerships with artisans and elders across Canada who handcraft moccasins and mukluks the traditional way. For every Storyboot item sold, the Indigenous artist receives 100% of the proceeds. Sarain kicked off our event with a beautiful smudging ceremony to purify the atmosphere using the sacred sage plant.
Her passionate storytelling inspired our guests with her positive intentions to amplify the voices of her Indigenous community and vibrant culture through her various mediums. She is a fascinating individual and incredibly enigmatic. It was an honor to meet her and spend some time together with her and her team. (I had not had the opportunity to meet her when I visited the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto a couple of years ago to see the school in “action”.)
Josh DePerry of Classic Roots – Performer, Award-winning Producer & DJ
Through the power of music, Josh incorporated First Nations songs including singing and drumming, combined with Electronica and pow wow techno. He has created workshops to help empower Indigenous young people through mentoring and cultural pride. Josh performed his “fancy dance” at our event. He was resplendent in his Indigenous dress, and I enjoyed speaking with him for a couple of minutes to learn about his tough upbringing, his challenges with substance abuse, how he had been clean and sober for 14 years and was doing well. You can listen and watch some of his music work on his YouTube Channel.
Spencer West – Motivational Speaker, Advocate and Humanitarian – “Redefine Possible”
I was happy that our charismatic and dynamic friend, Spencer West joined us for our event. He has been a featured speaker at over 90 WE Days. Spencer is the author of the best-selling book Standing Tall: My Journey and was featured in the documentary Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West.
I have known Spencer for several years and consider him a friend. (My wife and kids love him too.) I had the pleasure of travelling with him (and his colleague Jake) on our ME to WE Kenya trip and on our U by Uniworld ,“The B” ship’s inaugural cruise beginning in Paris.
Spencer is an astonishing individual who has truly demonstrated the triumph of the human spirit. At the age of five, he lost both of his legs from the pelvis due to a genetic condition and he has met every challenge with great courage and determination. During his storytelling session, he enthralled our guests about his life’s journey in connecting to others and helping to transform the world.
He described his arduous climb to Mount Kilimanjaro not only for personal fulfilment but to raise funds for a global clean water initiative while raising awareness of the extreme drought in Africa. I highly recommend Spencer for any event or company that needs an inspirational speaker. He inspires my family and myself, and touches our hearts with his drive, determination, passion, heart of gold and ability to connect with everyone he meets, from young children to mature adults.
Craig Kielburger – Co-founder of WE Charity and ME to WE – “Making Doing Good, Doable”
For the past 23 years, Craig has known how to captivate an audience with his infectious enthusiasm and passion to change the world with their WE Movement philosophy, “Making doing good, doable”.
It is an immense honor to have Craig speak at our events and to inspire everyone to make an impact. Craig discussed how our global community has to come together to meet human needs by supporting the United Nations’ 17 SDGs, including the eradication of extreme poverty.
He mentioned that SDG #17, which he calls “the enabler” by revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development. He clarified that the only way we can truly meet the fulfillment of the SDGs is by governments, businesses and non-profits are all aligned and working together for impact – this is the essence of the 17th SDG.
Craig emphasized that through travel and tourism, we create jobs which is the greatest form of charity. He stated that travel creates an opportunity for people to authentically lift themselves out of poverty. WE Charity is building a college of hospitality and tourism in Kenya, which our family and many other caring individuals have helped fund. It is now open and starting to educate the future nurses, doctors and hospitality leaders in Kenya.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for all that Craig, his brother Marc and their wives, Leysa and Roxanne are doing with their global team of hundreds who are making a big difference every day in many people’s lives. I really thank our TTC team member, Marie Anne MacRae, for introducing me to WE, and in time, Craig and Marc, some years ago. Today, my family and I consider them all friends and like family – and are devoted to doing all we can for them and their noble, meaningful work.
Kardinal Offishall – Rapper, Producer, DJ and WE Ambassador
Kardinal is one of WE’s most engaging Ambassadors who has participated in over 40 WE Days and has been on five ME to WE trips to Kenya. Through his charity, 30 Elephants, he has raised funds annually to send North American young people from ages 14 to 19 years old to various countries around the world including ME to WE trips. Craig conducted a Q&A session with Kardinal on stage and our audience appreciated Kardinal’s perspective about growing up in Toronto and the multiculturalism which Canadians have embraced. He also recounted the unforgettable experiences and friendships that he made during his Kenya trips.
I really enjoyed meeting Kardi afterwards. He is super cool, and I admire him for taking the time to raise funds each year, to bring these kids to Africa, for a phenomenal, life-changing experience. It was great to listen to him share some of his insights and experiences from when he first went to Kenya, having been born in the Caribbean, and to experience the must-see experiences one has when there. (I highly recommend one.) I’ve since bought all his music, and very much enjoy listening to it, driving to and from work every day.
Special thanks to our co-hosts, Russ McLeod, Executive Director for ME to WE and Zach Vanasse, Program Manager for TreadRight. A sincere thank you to our guests and partners who joined us for our 10 Year celebration. And many thanks to the WE team members including Aaron Sapra and Vanessa Morcom for all of their efforts as well as the support of our TTC team members.
I really enjoy my visits to Toronto each year and spend some time with our incredible TTC team. It is also a highlight to break bread with our trusted, wonderful travel advisor partners, and with the team at WE. It always reminds me how beautifully endearing, warm hearted, majestic, strong, talented and understated the Canadians are. I am so proud and grateful to call a number of them my friends.
We received positive feedback with the recent launch of our official #MakeTravelMatter video which highlights our initiatives which you can view below.
Also, I am very excited to showcase our newest TreadRight video highlighting our recently added “People” project in Jordan, the Iraq al-Amir Womens Cooperative which I personally visited earlier this year.
Wishing you the very best,