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Craig Kielburger
Craig Kielburger in 2010
Craig Kielburger at We Day Waterloo 2010 with his brother, Marc Kielburger, in the background
Born (1982-12-17) December 17, 1982 (age 32)
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Trinity College, University of Toronto (B.A.)
Schulich School of Business, York University
Kellogg School of Management (EMBA)
Occupation Activist
Notable work Founded Free the Children
Relatives Marc Kielburger (brother)

Craig Kielburger, CM, MSM, OMC (born December 17, 1982) is a Canadian activist for the rights of children. He is the co-founder, with his brother Marc Kielburger, of the Free the Children charity and of the Me to We social enterprise.[1] On February 20, 2007, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.

Early life[edit]

Craig Kielburger was born in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. He attended Bishop Scalabrini Catholic School, in Thornhill, which is where he did a school project which eventually gave birth to Free the Children and was assigned by Mr. Fedrigoni of Bishop Scalabrini. He graduated with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, a double minor in Psychology and Politics from the University of Toronto.[2] In 2009, he completed his Executive MBA at Schulich School of Business at York University and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as the dual-school program's youngest-ever graduate.[3]


Free the Children[edit]

In 1995, when he was 12 years old, Craig saw a headline in the Toronto Star newspaper that read “Battled child labour, boy, 12, murdered.” The accompanying story was about a young Pakistani boy named Iqbal Masih who was forced into bonded labour in a carpet factory at the age of four, became an international figurehead for the fight against child labour by 12 years old, and was murdered in 1995.[4]

Angered by the article, Kielburger began researching child labour. He took the article to school, gave a speech to his class and gathered friends in his same age and together founded a group called the "Twelve-Twelve-Year-Olds",[5] This group evolved into "Free the Children", an international organization that has 45 countries participating in helping the world become a better place. In December 1995, Kielburger travelled to Asia with Alam Rahman, a 25-year-old family friend from Bangladesh, to see the conditions for himself. While there, he learnt that then-Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien was travelling to India. After being denied a meeting, Craig arranged a press conference where he declared that the Prime Minister had a “moral responsibility” to take action on child labour. The Prime Minister eventually met with him and raised the issue of child labour with the trade delegation, and spoke on the matter with the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India.

He and a group of others also successfully lobbied the Canadian and Italian governments to stiffen laws against their nationals who sexually exploit children in developing countries like those in Asia.

Free the Children began to receive international attention, and partnered with Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network, for which Craig Kielburger has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show several times.

The organization has to date built over 650 schools and school rooms and implemented projects in 45 developing countries through its approach of "children helping children". The majority of the organization’s annual funding comes from funds raised by young people.[6]

Me to We[edit]

Craig Kielburger giving a speech in the Global Young Leaders Conference 2006

Kielburger also co-founded Me to We, a social enterprise that donates half its annual profits to Free the Children by selling socially conscious products and services. Me to We's offerings include ethically made organic clothing, artisan accessories made in Kenya, motivational books and speakers, youth leadership camps, and volunteer trips to Kenya, India, Ecuador, Ghana, Nicaragua, the Arizona-Mexico border, and rural China. The aim of the enterprise is to "eventually cover the charity's administrative costs, so all donations can go directly to projects."[1] The organization reinvests the other half of its profits to grow the social enterprise.

In 2004 Kielburger co-authored a book with his brother Marc, also entitled Me to We. It focuses on explaining their philosophy of volunteerism, service to others and social involvement with contributions by Oprah Winfrey, Richard Gere, Jane Goodall, Desmond Tutu and others.

In the year of its founding, the Me to We organization was recognized for its new model of social entrepreneurship with the national Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, recognizing extraordinary leadership and innovation in organizations which address social needs.

Public life[edit]

Craig Kielburger addressing candidates at the 2013 York University Convocation

Kielburger contributes a regular column about social activism around the world called "Global Voices" for the Vancouver Sun, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Edmonton Journal, Victoria Times Colonist, Waterloo Region Record, Winnipeg Free Press, Huffington Post and Huffington Post Canada online. Along with his brother Marc Kielburger, he also writes a column in the Globe and Mail called "Ask the Kielburgers", which offers tips on giving back and socially conscious living.

Craig speaking at a National Scouts Canada Conference in Ottawa.

Kielburger has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Scouting, a movement he credits as being among his most formative experiences as a young person. From 2009 to 2012, he served on Scouts Canada's Board of Govenors, and has often acted as a spokesperson for the organization.[7][8]

In 2012, Craig Kielburger Secondary School opened its doors in Milton, Ontario. The school was named for the activist after a campaign by two former and two current students.[9]

Shortly before the one-year anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Kielburger travelled with a W5 television crew to a Free the Children school in Haiti alongside actress and activist Mia Farrow. A documentary of their experience aired in January 2011.

In June 2010, Kielburger joined CP24, a Toronto-based news television station. As "Special Correspondent" he interviewed a variety of Toronto citizens and visitors regarding their thoughts about the 2010 G-20 Toronto Summit being held in the city in the weeks following. He reported locally on eyewitness accounts of the 2010 Central Canada earthquake and at regular intervals during the violent and nonviolent protests in Downtown Toronto on the weekend of June 26 and 27.[6] He also hosts a segment entitled "Living Me to We", interviewing local experts on topics related to socially conscious living.

Kielburger was featured in a special documentary episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, titled "Doing What Matters", in which cast members travel to Africa to help build schools for children in Kenya. He later appeared as himself in a Season 7 episode of Degrassi, in which a student (Anya) organizes an event with Free the Children to raise awareness of living conditions in Africa.[4]

In 2000, Kielburger was awarded $319,000 in damages as settlement for a libel suit launched against the now-defunct Saturday Night magazine.[10] The settlement covered Kielburger's legal costs and the remainder was used to set up a trust fund for Free the Children.[10]

In October 2010, Kielburger’s Shameless Idealists was broadcast on CTV. In front of a high school audience, Kielburger conducted one-on-one interviews with socially active public figures including K'naan, Cherie Blair, Al Gore, Jacob Hoggard, Jesse Jackson Sr., Martin Sheen and Betty Williams.

He participated in the 2015 edition of Canada Reads, advocating for Thomas King's book The Inconvenient Indian.[11]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Primarily for his work with Free the Children, Kielburger has been recognized with awards such as:


  • Free the Children (1998)
  • Me to We (with Marc Kielburger, 2004)
  • Take Action (with Marc Kielburger, 2002)
  • Take More Action (with Marc Kielburger, 2008)
  • Making of an Activist (with Marc Kielburger, 2007)
  • The World Needs Your Kid (with Marc Kielburger, 2009)
  • Global Voices: Volume 1 (with Marc Kielburger, 2010)
  • Lessons From A Street Kid (2011)


  1. ^ a b Brown, Jennifer (October 16, 2008). "Changing attitudes one T-shirt at a time". Toronto Star (Torstar). Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  2. ^ “Stellar achievements: John H. Moss Scholarship recipient Craig Kielburger” University of Toronto. May 8, 2006. http://www.utoronto.ca/news/2006/05/stellar_achievements_john_h_mo.html
  3. ^ http://www.metowe.com/about-us/our-team/founders/
  4. ^ http://www.beyondintractability.org/profile/craig-kielburger-profile
  5. ^ Craig Kielburger, "Free the Children Speech", St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas, October 5, 2010
  6. ^ http://www.freethechildren.com/aboutus/financials/
  7. ^ "Scouts Canada National Conference Speaker Bios". Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  8. ^ "Just how ‘kind’ are Canadians?". Toronto Star. April 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  9. ^ http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education
  10. ^ a b "Child Rights Activist Wins Libel Award". CBC News. November 11, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-05. [dead link]
  11. ^ "CBC announces Canada Reads finalists". Toronto Star, January 20, 2015.
  12. ^ The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award http://www.cawcouncil4000.com/caw_nelson_mandela_human-rights-award.html
  13. ^ World of Children Youth Award http://www.worldofchildren.org/honoree/craig-kielburger-youth/
  14. ^ World of Children 15th Anniversary Achievement Award http://www.worldofchildren.org/honoree/craig-kielburger/
  15. ^ http://www.reachandteach.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=465
  16. ^ http://www.top20under20.ca/en/MentorProgram/ckielburger2.htm
  17. ^ http://www.beyondintractability.org/reflections/peacebuilder_profiles/Craig_Kielburger/Craig_Kielburger.jsp?nid=6579
  18. ^ http://www.senecac.on.ca/media/news/2009/2009-10-26.html?page=1
  19. ^ http://www.tcdsb.org/News/Director'sAnnualReport/Pages/19971998.aspx
  20. ^ Nipissing University, "Honorary Degree Recipients," Nov 11 2000, http://www.nipissingu.ca/president/honorary_degree.asp
  21. ^ http://childrensworld.org/page.html?pid=810
  22. ^ http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Kielburger — Please support Wikipedia.
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5328 videos foundNext > 

The Story of Craig Keilburger

Television documentary on the story of Craig Keilburger. This video is the story of Craig Keilburger's awakening - at the young age of 12 he came to realize the plight of thousands of child...

Free the Children Documentary

Craig Kielburger created an international human rights movement called Free the Children. A documentary excerpted from In Search of Character, a ten part video series from Live Wire Media,...

It Takes a Child

It Takes a Child is the inspirational story of Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger and the birth of a lifelong human rights mission. Witness the beginning of an international movement...

Meet Craig and Marc Kielburger

Brothers and founders of Free The Children, Craig and Marc Kielburger are two of the world's leading figures in youth empowerment. Free The Children, which works with more than one million...

Craig & Marc Kielburger On Strombo: Full Interview

http://www.strombo.com Activists Craig and Marc Kielburger discuss their latest book 'Living Me To We' and how Canadians can make simple changes to lead a more socially conscious life.

Craig Kielburger on "The World Needs Your Kid"

Craig Kielburger, author of "The World Needs Your Kid," joins Allan Gregg to talk about raising compassionate and caring children with a uniquely Canadian perspective.

Craig and Marc Kielburger Speak at We Day

Craig and Marc Kielburger inspire the audience of passionate youth with their full speech at We Day.

Free The Children

There are millions of people taking action with Free The Children to create a better world. Join us! Visit www.freethechildren.com.

University of Toronto: Marc & Craig Kielburger, Convocation 2011 Honorary Degree recipients

Honorary Degree Recipient Craig Kielburger addresses University of Toronto Convocation June 8 2011.

Marc & Craig Kielburger - Activists | Co-Founders of Free the Children & Me to We

Free The Children delivers innovative service-learning programming to more than 4000 youth groups and hundreds of thousands of young people in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

5328 videos foundNext > 

1349 news items


Vancouver Sun
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:52:48 -0700

A generation and an ocean apart, Mary Robinson and Severn Cullis-Suzuki stand up for causes they care about, leading the charge for meaningful change. A lawyer with a passion for social justice, Robinson became the first female president of Ireland 25 ...


Sat, 07 Mar 2015 13:07:09 -0800

Craig Kielburger Secondary School's wrestling standout admits he was battling fatigue as much as his opponent during the late stages of last year's Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) gold-medal match — which he wound up losing.


Tue, 17 Mar 2015 04:03:45 -0700

So to all my Canada Reads opponents I say, bring it on. Together we'll celebrate one of Canada's greatest freedoms, the freedom to read a great book. Craig Kielburger is social activist and best-selling author who has inspired a generation of young ...

Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:02:07 -0700

“It's insanely easy to raise $10,000 a day.” Taylor Conroy sounds like an ambitious venture capitalist. But instead of building profits for shareholders, he's building schools for poor communities. His investors (citizens like you) buy in for the price ...
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:56:15 -0800

Kid President's message is, "We were made to be awesome." His motto, "If it doesn't change the world, don't do it." To the 11-year-old You-Tube star, changing the world includes giving hugs, high fives and dancing. It's also meant making more than 75 ...
The News Journal
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 21:30:00 -0700

Former President Bill Clinton will give the simulcast keynote address at 12:30 p.m. March 31, with other simulcast speakers including Craig Kielburger, founder of Save the Children, and Erin Gruwell, founder of Freedom Writers. Interspersed between the ...
Huffington Post UK
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:48:45 -0800

Last March, 12,000 students packed the SSE Arena in Wembley and committed to being change makers in their communities and the world. At the inaugural We Day UK, globally renowned speakers and performers - including Sir Richard Branson, Pakistani ...

Cult MTL

Cult MTL
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:33:45 -0700

Created by the Free the Children, the organization founded by Craig Kielburger, the group's stated mission: “To empower a generation to shift the world from 'me' to 'we' — from a focus on the individual to the power of community.” “…With a focus on ...

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