Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA) 2007, Hon. Doctor of Laws (Hon. LLD) 2011
When Craig Kielburger was 12 years old, he read a story about child labour that made him suddenly understand “that a young person can make a difference.” Now Kielburger continues to demonstrate that young people can really change the world.
The story Kielburger read in the Toronto Star was about 12-year-old Iqbal Masih, who had been murdered for bringing the world’s attention to the terrible conditions endured by children working in the carpet-making industry in Pakistan.
He became so passionate about human rights he persuaded his parents to allow him to accompany a Canadian human rights worker on a trip to South Asia. He wrote about his experiences in a book called Free the Children.
Today, as founders of international charity and educational partner Free The Children, Kielburger and his brother Marc are internationally known for their work fighting against child labour. In fact, Free the Children, has grown into the largest network of children helping children. The organization’s domestic programs, which includes We Day, educates, engages and empowers more than 1.7 million young people. Its international projects have brought more than 650 schools and school rooms to youth and provided clean water, healthcare and food security to more than one million people around the world.
"Before I walked into U of T, I was already passionate about the world and I had some field experience. But what I lacked was the theory, knowledge, the development approach. It is all about grounding activism in knowledge."
In 2008, Craig co-founded Me to We with his brother Marc. Me to We provides consumers with socially conscious and environmentally friendly products, as well as life-changing travel experiences, speakers and books. Half of Me to We’s net profit is donated to Free The Children, while the other half is reinvested to grow the enterprise and its social mission.
The brothers also write a weekly column, Global Voices, that is syndicated across Canada. Craig is a New York Times bestselling author who has written nine books, including the children’s book, Lessons from a Street Kid.
Kielburger has received 13 honorary doctorates, including one from the U of T. He won the Roosevelt Freedom Medal and is one of the youngest recipients of the Order of Canada.
Published Nov. 28, 2013