On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, we attended the “Thank You Malala” event on Parliament Hill organized by Women’s March Canada. On this day, Pakistani Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai addressed Canadian Parliament and received honorary citizenship. The purpose of the event was to welcome Malala and show our appreciation for her courage and solidarity with her work!
When I saw this awesome event, I reached out to the organizer, Rehana Hashmi of Sister’s Trust Canada, and said that World-Changing Kids wanted to be a part of it! And I am so glad that I did.
My kids already knew who Malala was and why she is an amazing young woman, because we read the “Who is Malala Yousafzai?” book that our awesome friend Janet gave us for Christmas. This is a photo of the book and the thank you card my daughter made.
I brought 6 World-Changing Kids with me to this event (and 7 back to school at the end!). One of the kids had also already read the “Who is Malala Yousafzai?” book, and a second one was in the process of reading it – so there were a bunch of kids who were super excited to be part of this historic event.
We started our day by making cards to give to Malala.
Here are the five cards that were made that morning:
Here is the card my six year old daughter made:
“Malala, it is so sad that you got shot. Thank you for everything that you do. I can’t believe that girls couldn’t go out of the house without a boy who is related to them.” Those are the important points that my daughter remembers from reading the book – that is what is important to her young heart.
And I thought this card was quite brilliant:
Spelling out Malala’s name, it says:
All in Peace
A Nice Lady
That melts my heart! The “All in Peace” line is my favourite.
Then I packed six kids into the car and drove down to the market to park. We then walked to Parliament Hill. The kids were super and the event itself was so lovely!
We made signs and talked about why Malala is such an inspiring and amazing young woman.
Then Rehana spoke about living in Pakistan and following Malala’s story from the beginning. It was such a great way to make a lesson come alive for the kids – to listen to someone who had lived where Malala lived, who had been following her from her first interviews and blog, who heard immediately about her getting shot, and who prayed for her recovery.
I then spoke about why World-Changing Kids was happy to be at this amazing event and how Malala is such an important role model for these young children – both the boys and the girls. I explained that the kids had made cards for Malala and the kids got to read their cards into a microphone to a cheering crowd. What an awesome experience!
After the speeches, we sang some songs with our friends from Family Harmonies Familiales. And then, a few classes from a local school came out and performed two songs and a dance. It was so heartwarming. I was running around trying to keep track of all my kids, so didn’t get any photos of the performances. But I did get this cute photo of one of my crew taking a break from the crowds and noise to watch the cranes.
And then Malala arrived! She did not come down to the top of steps to greet us – she waved from the front doors of the Parliament Building, which unfortunately meant that none of the kids were able to see her. But my friend Mike, who is super tall, got this shot of Malala and Justin Trudeau waving. If you zoom in, you can see Malala in orange.
The kids were a bit disappointed that Malala did not come down to the steps to greet us, but I explained that what was important was that there was a crowd there to greet her and send her love. She felt that. That is what matters. And, as luck would have it, my friend Scheherzade was at the event with us, and her mom was attending the reception later that evening – she kindly offered to take our cards and hand deliver them to Malala. Scheherzade reported back to me that the cards had been delivered. That was exciting – the kids thought that was pretty cool.
The kids, of course, weren’t ready to go right back to school immediately after the event. Since we missed first lunch, we had to have a picnic.
And since we missed first recess, we had to run around a bit.
We also figured out how to watch a live feed on my phone of the ceremony inside while standing at the base of the steps in front of the Parliament Buildings. This is definitely a life experience that will make a lasting impression on these World-Changing Kids! This was a much more powerful way to learn about Malala than a quick lesson in school.
Then we made our way back to the car – at a painfully slow pace ….
This photo was just too cute to miss …. I think it perfectly sums up our main message at World-Changing Kids!
There is so much I love about being able to take these World-Changing Kids to this event with me. Firstly, it is confidence building. These kids will know that they have the power to come to Parliament Hill to express their support, or their disagreement, with an issue or cause. They got up to speak on the microphone in front of a crowd, to read cards they wrote. On top of just the awesome experience of public speaking, this teaches them that they have a voice and that their words matter. Which is what Malala’s message was in her speech.
I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to show these kids that this is the type of leader that I think is an important role model. One of the boys, on the ride there, mentioned that Malala is a celebrity. I took that opportunity to explain that I agree and that I think she is a celebrity for all the right reasons – for standing up for the rights of women and girls – rather than someone who is a celebrity for posting photos of themselves looking “hot” on Instagram. And more than just saying this with words, my actions reinforced this by bringing the kids to the event. I hope that this has some weight in their decisions when they get older and decide which celebrities they are going to follow and look up to.
And then the importance of this event was reinforced for the kids with quite a bit of media attention! Ottawa Community News wrote this great article on the event with photos of me and the kids! The BBC news shared this clip from Malala’s speech.
I know that this event was an important step in helping these kids to become the best World-Changing Kids they can be!
Here are links to a few videos in case you would like to learn more about Malala’s story.
The trailer for “He Named Me Malala”
A story from CNN:
A message from WE Day 2014: