At 12, Craig Kielburger wanted to make a difference. It took time to learn how.

Craig Kielburger knew at 12 years old that he wanted to make a difference, but it took a while to understand how.

Craig & Marc Kielburger host a WE Day for Canada’s 150th with thousands of youth.

Craig Kielburger and Marc celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration with a WE Day event that included thousands of young people.

Humanitarian, activist and social entrepreneur, Craig inspires young people to take action and drive social change.

Craig Kielburger is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of a family of organizations dedicated to the power of WE, a movement of people coming together to change the world. Along with his brother Marc Kielburger, Craig co-founded WE Charity, which provides a holistic development model called WE Villages, helping to lift more than one million people out of poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Back at home in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, WE Schools and WE Day provide comprehensive service learning programs to 10,000 schools, engaging 2.4 million young change-makers. Lastly, he is the co-founder of ME to WE, a pioneering social enterprise, the profits from which help sustain the work of his charitable organization. His work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes and the BBC. Craig is the youngest ever graduate from the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program. He has also received 15 honorary doctorates and degrees for his work in the fields of education and human rights. Craig is a New York Times bestselling author, who has published 12 books, as well as a nationally syndicated columnist. Craig has received The Order of Canada, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Medal and the World Children’s Prize. He was recently voted by Canadians as one of Canada’s top most trusted influencers in a Readers Digest poll, and along with his brother Marc, he was named Canada’s Most Admired CEO in the public sector in 2015.
“If you give kids the inspiration and tools to change the world, it will change their own lives in the process.”
Craig Kielburger

Craig’s Early Life

Craig Kielburger is the second son of two teachers, his father Fred, and his mother Theresa Kielburger. The family grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, a community just north of the province’s capital city, Toronto. In 1995, Craig Kielburger read a newspaper article about the murder of a 12-year-old boy named Iqbal Masih, formerly enslaved in Pakistan. He became an activist against child labour after he successfully escaped captivity. It’s reported that the young poor was murdered due to his activism. By the time he was in high school, Craig Kielburger was already a passionate and dedicated children’s rights activist.

Early Initiatives

After learning the reality of child labour in 1995, Craig Kielburger was so impacted by the story of Iqbal that he and his brother rallied some of their classmates to launch the Kielburgers’ first charitable organization, Free the Children. The early-stage organization was a youth-led advocacy group that drew attention to the issue of child labour. “I was shocked. In school, I had learned about the American Civil War and the Underground Railroad, but I thought slavery was something out of the past, that it had been abolished,” Craig Kielburger said in a past interview with Yes Magazine. “After that, about ten of us started doing small things to help.” Craig has been driven by his conviction that children should be an integral part of addressing the issues that affect them and their peers, rather than allowing adults to speak on their behalf. He strongly believes in the idea of children aiding children, tapping into their innate idealism and enthusiasm to create a climate of social change. Free the Children (which eventually became WE Charity) successfully completed a 3,000-signature petition calling for the release of child labour Kailash Satyarthi that was sent directly to the prime minister of India at the time. Craig and his peers provided speeches about the reality of child labour at schools, churches, and community groups. His efforts drew the public’s attention when he provided a speech before the Ontario Federation of Labour, successfully leading to $150,000 in donations to a project supported by Free the Children.

Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World

In 2004, Craig and Marc Kielburger published their guiding ideals in their book: Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. “For everyone who has ever yearned for a better life and a better world, Craig and Marc Kielburger share a blueprint for personal and social change that has the power to transform lives, one act at a time. Through inspirational contributions from people from all walks of life, the Kielburgers reveal that a more fulfilling path is ours for the taking when we find the courage to reach out.” – Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World. The book included contributions from Oprah Winfrey, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Dr. Jane Goodall. The book touches on stories from the brothers’ own experiences, the experiences of their volunteers, and the people they met across the globe. This perspective became a focal point of the large youth rallies the brothers regularly held, which encouraged children and youths to participate in and lead charitable events.

Books

In the Media