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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 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.[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. April 8, 2013. 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/honoree/craig-kielburger-youth/
  12. ^ World of Children 15th Anniversary Achievement Award http://www.worldofchildren.org/honoree/craig-kielburger/
  13. ^ http://www.reachandteach.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=465
  14. ^ http://www.top20under20.ca/en/MentorProgram/ckielburger2.htm
  15. ^ http://www.beyondintractability.org/reflections/peacebuilder_profiles/Craig_Kielburger/Craig_Kielburger.jsp?nid=6579
  16. ^ http://www.senecac.on.ca/media/news/2009/2009-10-26.html?page=1
  17. ^ http://www.tcdsb.org/News/Director'sAnnualReport/Pages/19971998.aspx
  18. ^ Nipissing University, "Honorary Degree Recipients," Nov 11 2000, http://www.nipissingu.ca/president/honorary_degree.asp
  19. ^ http://childrensworld.org/page.html?pid=810
  20. ^ http://www.insidehalton.com/community/article/1524993--kielburger-opening-celebrates-power-of-education.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "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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178 news items

Vancouver Sun

Regina Leader-Post
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:18:45 -0700

This summer's simian heroes were bestowed with all sorts of empathy on the big screen. Caesar and Maurice are stoic leaders in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, tolerant of other species, even befriending some of the surviving humans after a viral ...
Times Colonist
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:05:35 -0700

In the small First Nations community of Moricetown, north of Smithers, teens haunt the convenience stores and gas bars, their lives adrift. Locals call them “phantoms.” Cain Michell, then 14, was one of them. The twisting yet hopeful path he has ...
Sun, 24 Aug 2014 09:27:29 -0700

The local grandmothers helping grandmothers group Oomama will partner with social activist and best-selling author Craig Kielburger on Thursday, Oct. 9, to empower local youths and help young people in need in HIV/AIDS-ravaged Africa. Kielburger will ...
Waterloo Record
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:58:19 -0700

I learned about Free the Children, how he (Craig Kielburger) started it when he was young. I met him a few times at We Day. That brought me awareness that there are injustices that exist outside the Kitchener Waterloo area." As a second-year student in ...
Huffington Post Canada
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 05:20:23 -0700

Clemantine Wamariya went years without taking a shower. Living with the filth and stench was still preferable to risking rape in a refugee camp bathroom. Wamariya was six years old when, fleeing the 1994 Rwanda genocide. She walked through the gates of ...
Huffington Post Canada
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:17:17 -0700

Natana Kisemei was 14 and illiterate when her father married her off to an older man. Now 36, she has five children and struggles to feed her family amid a drought and poverty in Kenya's Rift Valley. Her life to this point could well be the story of ...

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:18:45 -0700

Pushed along by grassroots movements like Marc and Craig Kielburger's We Day, which this spring attracted 16,000 young community activists to the Canadian Tire Centre, and another 180,000 across North America, volunteering has become something of a ...

Regina Leader-Post

Regina Leader-Post
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 01:31:39 -0700

By Marc and Craig Kielburger, The Leader-Post August 19, 2014. Story; Photos ( 1 ). What makes us click? Clicking the Like button on Facebook is both a means to affirm your own beliefs and a self-marketing tool that makes you seem green, fair trade ...

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