Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger
Craig Kielburger at We Day Waterloo 2010 with his brother, Marc Kielburger, in the background
Born (1982-12-17) December 17, 1982
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 Social entrepreneur
Notable work Founded Free the Children and Me to We
Relatives Marc Kielburger (brother)

Craig Kielburger CM MSM OMC (born December 17, 1982) is a Canadian author and activist for the rights of children. He is the co-founder, with his brother Marc Kielburger, of the Free the Children, an international development and youth empowerment organization; Me to We, a social enterprise,[1] and We Day, an annual youth empowerment event. On April 11, 2008, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.[2]

Early life

Craig Kielburger was born in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada.[3] He attended Blessed Scalabrini Catholic School, in Thornhill, where he did a school project which eventually gave birth to Free the Children, and Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough. He graduated with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from Trinity College at the University of Toronto.[4] 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.[5]


Free the Children

In 1995, when Craig Kielburger 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.[6]

Kielburger did more research about child labour and asked his grade seven teacher to speak to his classmates on the topic. Several offered to help, and the group of pre-teens started "Kids Can Free the Children" (later Free The Children).[7]

One of the group’s first actions was to collect 3,000 signatures on a petition to the prime minister of India, calling for the release of imprisoned child labour activist Kailash Satyarthi, who went on to win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.[8]

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 initially being denied a meeting, Kielburger sat with Chretien for a 15-minute meeting to put child labour on the Prime Minister’s agenda, making headlines across Canada and internationally.[9] Upon his return, Kielburger attracted international media attention with features on 60 Minutes and the Oprah Winfrey Show.[10][11] His South Asian trip was documented in his book "Free The Children" and the Judy Jackson documentary "It Takes a Child".[12]

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. The social enterprise donates half of its net profits to its partner charity, Free The Children, and invests the other half back into growing the enterprise.[13]

Public life

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.

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.[14]

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.

In 2000, Kielburger was awarded $319,000 in damages as settlement for a libel suit launched against the now-defunct Saturday Night magazine.[15] The settlement covered Kielburger's legal costs and the remainder was used to set up a trust fund for Free the Children.[15]

He participated in the 2015 edition of Canada Reads, advocating for Thomas King's book The Inconvenient Indian.[16]

Recognition and awards

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)
  • Living Me to We: The Guide for Socially Conscious Canadians (with Marc Kielburger, 2012)
  • The Power of We Day: Moving the World from Me to We (with Marc Kielburger, 2013)
  • "My Grandma Follows Me on Twitter" ( with Marc Keilburger, 2012)


  1. Brown, Jennifer (October 16, 2008). "Changing attitudes one T-shirt at a time". Toronto Star. Torstar. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  2. "Craig Kielburger honoured with the Order Of Canada". Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  3. "The Freedom Fighter".
  7. Craig Kielburger, "Free the Children Speech", St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas, October 5, 2010
  15. 1 2 "Child Rights Activist Wins Libel Award". CBC News. November 11, 2000. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  16. "CBC announces Canada Reads finalists". Toronto Star, January 20, 2015.
  17. The Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  20. "2005/2006 Fellows - Action Canada". Action Canada. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  23. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
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