Craig Kielburger at We Day Waterloo 2010 with his brother, Marc Kielburger, in the background
December 17, 1982 |
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||Trinity College, University of Toronto (B.A.)
Schulich School of Business, York University
Kellogg School of Management (EMBA)
|Notable work(s)||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. On February 20, 2007, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.
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. 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.
Free the Children
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.
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", 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 learned 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.
Me to We
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." 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
In 2000, Kielburger was awarded $319,000 in damages as settlement for a libel suit launched against the now-defunct Saturday Night magazine. The settlement covered Kielburger's legal costs and the remainder was used to set up a trust fund for Free the Children.
In October 2010, Kielburger’s Shameless Idealists was broadcast on Canada’s CTV channel. In front of a high school audience, Kielburger conducts 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.
Recognition and awards
Primarily for his work with Free the Children, Kielburger has been recognized with awards such as:
- The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award
- The Community of Christ International Peace Award
- The 2002 World of Children Awards - Youth Award 
- The World Economic Forum Global Leaders of Tomorrow Award
- The Top 20 Under 20 Award
- The Reebok Human Rights Award
- The Roosevelt Freedom Medal
- The 2004 Kiwanis International Foundation World Service Medal
- The Medal of Meritorious Service
- The Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship
- The State of the World Forum award
- Honorary Doctorate of education from Nipissing University for his work in leadership development
- At age 23, became the youngest person listed to the Globe and Mail's Top 40 under 40
- The 2006 World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child
- Made a Member of the Order of Canada.
- Honorary degree in law from University of Guelph.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta.
- Honorary degree in law from Carleton University. 
- Craig Kielburger Secondary School named in Milton, Ontario, Canada 
- Received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
- Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of Toronto
- Honorary Doctorate of Letters from York University
- 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)
- Brown, Jennifer (October 16, 2008). "Changing attitudes one T-shirt at a time". Toronto Star (Torstar). Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- “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
- Craig Kielburger, "Free the Children Speech", St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas, October 5, 2010
- "Scouts Canada National Conference Speaker Bios". Retrieved 2013-04-10.
- "Just how ‘kind’ are Canadians?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
- "Child Rights Activist Wins Libel Award". CBC News. November 11, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-05.[dead link]
- The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award http://www.cawcouncil4000.com/caw_nelson_mandela_human-rights-award.html
- World of Children Youth Award http://www.worldofchildren.org/index.php/honorees/2002-honorees/81-craig-kielburger
- Nipissing University, "Honorary Degree Recipients," Nov 11 2000, http://www.nipissingu.ca/president/honorary_degree.asp
- http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education. Missing or empty
- "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.[dead link]
- Free the Children's official website
- Video of Honorary Degree Recipient Craig Kielburger addresses University of Toronto Convocation June 8 2011.
- We Day Event Broadcast on CTV.ca
- Me to We website
- “Haiti a year after the quake” documentary with Mia Farrow