November 9, 2018
Up with People (UWP) has always been Canadian. Many past tours were highlighted by their time spent here. Canadian alumni have a strong base, numbering 1,100. However, 18 years ago UWP as a Canadian organization was lost. So, where and how do you start 18 years later when all that changes? You celebrate from coast, to coast, to coast of course!
After officially receiving non-profit status in Canada, the Board of Directors of UWP Canada chose October 20, 2018 as ‘Up with People Alumni Day in Canada’. Our mission for the day was a simple one:
Reignite – Reconnect – Rejuvenate
Volunteers were recruited to act as Event Hosts in each of their respective areas. In the end, events where held in 16 cities in eight different Provinces across the country, including:
Event Hosts designed their own casual event where alumni could come, share memories, celebrate what is to come, connect and reconnect with other alumni, and
(most importantly) reignite our shared passion for the international Up with People organization while celebrating the return of UWP Canada. Canadian alumni were ready and eager to participate! Over 150 alumni attended events, some bringing family to share in the celebration and party with them. In restaurants and pubs across the country, pictures and videos were taken and shared on Facebook to further connect and reignite us as a united group of alumni in Canada—and across the world.
In our capital city of Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson read an official proclamation stating that October 20, 2018 is ‘Up with People Alumni Day’. Alumni cheered with excitement across the country as the proclamation was shared on Facebook. In Toronto, Bradley Hamilton (Board Chairman of UWP Canada) shared news, updates and goals for UWP Canada with not only event attendees, but hundreds more alumni watching live on Facebook. In Charlottetown, there were guitars, music and a full sing-along—UWP style!
Hosts were encouraged to include community service and impact, one of UWP’s most important program components, into their event. This was not only an opportunity for Canadian alumni to give back, but to demonstrate that our UWP values are still alive and well within each of us. In Vancouver, alumni and their families spent the morning cleaning up a vulnerable waterfront area, participating in The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. In Calgary, time was spent supporting L’Arche Calgary, a community for those with differing developmental abilities and those who share life with them. Food and warm clothing items were collected and donated at many other events to support those in need.
After such an amazing day, consideration is being given to make UWP Alumni Day in Canada an annual event. It’s safe to say that despite lacking an official organization for so long, UWP never truly ‘left’ Canada. Up with People Canada is now proudly alive and well once again, with a bright future full of hope, possibility, empowerment and impact.