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Hedley Discusses Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women, And Child Labour (Yes, That Hedley)

"We really have to check our priorities sometimes."

Canadian pop-rockers Hedley, and especially lead singer Jacob Hoggard, are devout goofballs. Take their silly red carpet arrivals at the MMVAs, ranging from rolling in on bikes to bringing an inflatable date to showing up in handcuffs. Or that time Hoggard wore a gold onesie while hosting the 2015 Junos. Or even his absurd take on "Space Oddity" back when he was a "Canadian Idol" contestant.

But Hoggard and the rest of the Vancouver-based band are more than a barrel of laughs. They've also been working as ambassadors with Free the Children for years, travelling overseas to help build schools and infrastructure in Kenya, India and Ecuador as well as speaking and performing at the organization's annual We Day youth activism rallies across the country.

HuffPost Canada sat down with Hoggard and guitarist Dave Rosin backstage at We Day Toronto to talk about the issues that matter most to them.

What person, project or movement gives you hope for the world?

Hoggard: Well, person I'd have to say Buffy Sainte Marie, just won the Polaris Prize. Amazing musician for so many years, what incredible career, and such an incredible activist.

Which kinda ties into my next answer for movement. It's missing aboriginal women in Canada.

It's a very underrated subject. Or it's something that not a lot of people talk about. A lot of times at events like this it's easy to think about how we can change the world and how we can effect change globally. But within our own borders it's [also] important for us to look after our own brothers and sisters. When human lives are of concern in a first world country, we really have to check our priorities sometimes.

I just hope the people don't forget that there are things like poverty rates that are way above average in some of our northern territories and provinces, as well as suicide rates [compared to] what they are for white kids in Ontario. That's really important for people to know that these are issues that we need to address. People need to know how important it is for us to look after our brothers and sisters here in our own backyard.

Rosin: Can I say Raffi? I'm a new dad and he wrote a book called "Lightweb/Darkweb" about how you expose children to technology. A lot of parents just plunk their kids in front of a screen and its really important to teach our kids safety on the web and how to properly put technology into our lives.

What issue concerns you the most in the world? And how should we address it?

Hoggard: Slavery that still exists in the form of child labor. That is still so prevalent. From your shoes to cosmetics, a lot of those raw materials are harvested by kids in little rat-hole mines working incredible hours.

It's still super wrong and it happens so much. We can at least start by being conscious of it. Just being aware of it creates momentum that begins with you knowing maybe I could choose this brand instead of that brand. Or just being mindful of your level of consumption. Individually we're a drop in the bucket, but globally how much Coca-Cola we drink affect how much ground water is being sucked out of half of India, leaving these villages in drought.

There's this cool website called Made in a Free World. You take this quiz and it's a survey of all the things you consume, what's in your house, and it makes a rough calculation of how much of what you have is made by slaves. Roughly on average 40 to 45 percent.

Like the rubber in the shoes you bought. Or anything made of sparkly material is an ore called mica which is just harvested by children in India, exclusively. It's one of those situations that exists but you don't think about it because it's not Nike shoes.

That's being mindful of consumption and how our choices can have such a huge impact.

You guys obviously care a lot about these issues, and are knowledgeable about them, how do you communicate this to your fans? Do you ever think about doing it via music?

Hoggard: I feel like we approach it with a lot of sensitivity. A lot of these issues can be very polarizing, and that's not to say that we don't feel strongly about these issues, but we always want to be open to ideas. Part of being open to ideas is not being the preacher pointing the finger.

We don't want to be the people saying 'you gotta do this or you gotta believe this.' Yeah, we stand up for what we believe in. Yeah, we back up the shit that we say. But when it comes to forcing ideas onto people, it's not really our style. It's so important for people to form their own ideas.

We all have the ability to form our own educated opinions, that is why knowledge is so powerful. The more you know, the more you can effect change.

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We Day 2015

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