She met four-time Canadian Olympian Silken Laumann in the green room backstage, talked with well-known motivational speaker Spencer West and got a selfie with Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard. But for Jaden Dyer, the best part about attending WE Day Vancouver as a VIP was the opportunity to share her idea for innovation with the tens of thousands of change-minded students in attendance.
The Grade 12 Thomas Haney Secondary student was a winner of the ‘WE innovate’ contest, put on by WE Day and Siemens Canada, which challenged Canadian students in grades 4-12 to come up with an innovative solution “to address issues that will have a lasting impact on the future of Canada.”
Contestants had to choose from four themes: environment, youth, diversity and inclusion, or reconciliation.
Dyer picked environment and came up with a solution for replacing disposable packaging in the restaurant industry with universal reusable plates, cups, mugs and cutlery.
A panel of expert judges picked seven winners in Canada, who each earned the grand prize which included a WE Day VIP experience and chance to introduce their winning idea with the WE crowd.
Dyer was excited but admits the thought of speaking to the thousands-strong WE audience made her a little nervous.
When she arrived at the stadium at 8 a.m. on October 18 for a pre-show breakfast buffet with the other speakers and entertainers, she was too anxious to eat.
The fact that she had to follow award-winning actor and activist Martin Sheen didn’t make taking the stage any easier.
But when it was her time she didn’t wilt. She inspired the audience.
“It happened so quickly. They introduced me, and the stadium was so packed; you could see all of the people. I was trying to not forget my lines and look around, make eye connect. It was quite an experience. I was very happy to share my idea,” she said. “I hope some people will be able to share it, build off it, and refine it, so that it soon will become a part of the food industry.”
This was the sixth time Dyer has attended WE Day Vancouver – and by far the most memorable.
“It was very surreal,” she said. She’ll never forget meeting Laumann. “I was very star-struck. She has spoken at WE Day before; she’s this legend! She asked me about my idea and about the competitive sports that I played.”
Dyer also got to meet presenter Karina LeBlanc, the former soccer star who represented Canada at two Olympic Games and five World Cups.
“She’s from Maple Ridge originally – we talked about Maple Ridge a bit because she’s coming to open a new field here.”
At her school Dyer is a student leader of the Eco-Action club and she has been involved in a variety of other environmental initiatives focused on reducing waste and energy consumption.
“Jaden has been an important member of our school community in terms of leading our environmental efforts,” said Grant Frend, principal of Thomas Haney Secondary.
Now in Grade 12, Dyer won’t be able to attend future WE Day events as a student but she plans to apply as a volunteer at the event in the future.
After graduating from high school, she hopes to attend either UBC or SFU and study applied biology or environmental science.