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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 31)
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(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.[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.

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",[4] 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.[5]

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.[6][7]

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.[8]

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.[9] The settlement covered Kielburger's legal costs and the remainder was used to set up a trust fund for Free the Children.[9]

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[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. ^ Craig Kielburger, "Free the Children Speech", St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas, October 5, 2010
  5. ^ http://www.freethechildren.com/aboutus/financials/
  6. ^ "Scouts Canada National Conference Speaker Bios". Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  7. ^ "Just how ‘kind’ are Canadians?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  8. ^ http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education
  9. ^ a b "Child Rights Activist Wins Libel Award". CBC News. November 11, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-05. [dead link]
  10. ^ The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award http://www.cawcouncil4000.com/caw_nelson_mandela_human-rights-award.html
  11. ^ World of Children Youth Award http://www.worldofchildren.org/index.php/honorees/2002-honorees/81-craig-kielburger
  12. ^ http://www.reachandteach.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=465
  13. ^ http://www.top20under20.ca/en/MentorProgram/ckielburger2.htm
  14. ^ http://www.beyondintractability.org/reflections/peacebuilder_profiles/Craig_Kielburger/Craig_Kielburger.jsp?nid=6579
  15. ^ http://www.senecac.on.ca/media/news/2009/2009-10-26.html?page=1
  16. ^ http://www.tcdsb.org/News/Director'sAnnualReport/Pages/19971998.aspx
  17. ^ Nipissing University, "Honorary Degree Recipients," Nov 11 2000, http://www.nipissingu.ca/president/honorary_degree.asp
  18. ^ http://childrensworld.org/page.html?pid=810
  19. ^ http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "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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4244 videos foundNext > 

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 vid...

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 labourers around the wor...

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 begin...

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.

Meet Marc and Craig 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 w...

Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger takes a moment to talk about the power of social enterprise and the importance of connecting with, and understanding, the perspectives of ot...

Craig Kielburger - Imagine Solutions 2013

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 mo...

Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger's Spring 2007 commencement address at Bridgewater State College. Introduction by President Dana Mohler-Faria.

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.

4244 videos foundNext > 

82 news items

Sault Star

Sault Star
Sat, 05 Apr 2014 11:45:00 -0700

... April 5, 2014 2:44:23 EDT PM. Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, speaks with students from St. Mary's French Immersion following the eighth annual Algoma University Northern Ontario Business Case Competition on Friday, April 4, 2014.

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen
Tue, 22 Apr 2014 03:41:15 -0700

Extreme Green: Live lawn mowers and eco-friendly burials are the future. By Marc and Craig Kielburger, Postmedia News April 22, 2014. Tweet. Comment. 0. Story; Photos ( 2 ). Extreme Green: Live lawn mowers and eco-friendly burials are the future ...
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 08:45:00 -0700

The students will be joined and judged by Million Dollar Neighbourhood host Preet Banerjee, and co-founder of Free the Children, Craig Kielburger. The Northern Ontario Case Competition is part of Algoma University's Business Strategy and Policy course, ...

Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:18:45 -0700

Free the Children is the charity and youth movement founded by Craig Kielburger and run by him and brother Marc Kielburger. It promotes We Day youth empowerment events around the globe. About 16,000 students packed the MTS Centre last Oct. 30 for ...
Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:28:41 -0700

... performance from sharp-shooting co-captain Lauren Boers, Chris Hadfield's girls basketball team jumped ahead early and downed the Gardiner Grizzles 39-21 in last night's North Halton Tier 1 public school final at Craig Kielburger Secondary School.
Brant News
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:35:01 -0700

She was thrilled to meet Craig Kielburger in Kenya. "He did a leadership program where he came into our campground and talked to us," Sierra said. Parents John Cunningham and Wendy Hamilton would be happy if their daughter's next trip came with less ...

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 18:15:38 -0700

OTTAWA — Sixteen thousand young people, cheering and dancing in one space, surrounded by energetic music, bright lights and cameras — all in the name of global activism. It's a vision Marc and Craig Kielburger — the co-founders of Free the Children ...
Yakima Herald-Republic
Sun, 13 Apr 2014 02:00:00 -0700

The speaker who didn't quite get to tell his story was the co-founder of We Day himself, Craig Kielburger. Back in 1995, as a 12-year-old in Ontario, Canada, he heard about the murder of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani boy who was forced into child slavery at ...

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