Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger, CM, MSM, OMC (born December 17, 1982, in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada), is a Canadian activist for the rights of children. He is the founder of Free The Children and co-founder of Me to We. On February 20, 2007, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.

Craig Kielburger
Photograph of a young man leaning forward while resting his arms on the back of a chair.
Kielburger in 2008.
Born December 17, 1982(1982-12-17)
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Education Executive MBA
Alma mater York University
Notable works Founded Free The Children

Free The Children

In 1995, when he was 12 years old, Kielburger saw a headline in the Toronto Star that read “Battled child labour, boy, 12, murdered.”[1] 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 labor by 10 years of age, and was brutally murdered in 1995 at the age of 12.

Angered by the article, Kielburger began researching child labour. He took the article to school, gathered friends his same age and together founded Free The Children. In December 1995, Kielburger travelled to Asia with Alam Rahman, a 25-year-old family friend from Bangladesh, to see the conditions for himself.[2] 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 announced 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 Minster of India.[3]

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.[4]

After Kielburger’s meeting with the Chrétien, Free The Children began to receive international attention. The organization has to date built over 500 schools and implemented projects in 45 developing countries.[5] On average, 65 per cent of organization’s annual funding comes from funds raised by young people.[3]

In May 2008, Kielburger and his brother Marc Kielburger appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to launch the “O Ambassadors” project.[6]

In the fall of 2009, Craig and his brother Marc organized We Day, an event held in Vancouver on September 29 at GM Place and Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on October 5, involving 30,000 students in two large arenas, which became a national television special on CTV on October 10, 2009.

Other activities

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

Kielburger also founded Me to We, a social enterprise that donates half its annual profits on annual basis to Free The Children by selling products such as organic, fair-trade clothing. According to the article, the aim of the enterprise is to “eventually cover the charity’s administrative costs, so all donations can go directly to projects.”[7] The organization reinvests the other half to grow the social enterprise.

Kielburger’s most recent book, co-authored with his brother Marc, is also entitled Me to We. It focuses on explaining their philosophy of volunteerism, service to others and social involvement.

Kielburger was also featured in a special documentary episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, titled “Doing What Matters”, in which cast members are shown traveling to Africa to help build schools for children in Kenya. He would later appear as himself in an actual 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[8]

Kielburger also contributes a regular column about social activism around the world for the Toronto Star titled Global Voices.

Kielburger is also on the National board of Scouts Canada, the movement that he says launched his career in activism.

[edit] Education

is graduated with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and a double minor in Psychology and Politics from the University of Toronto.[9] In 2009, he completed his Executive MBA at Schulich School of Business at York University.

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