In 1995, Ontario native Craig Kielburger was an average Canadian 12 year old who went to school with his friends. That same year, Pakistani Iqbal Masih was also 12 years old — but he was killed for speaking out against child labour.
Although both boys had very different circumstances, their lives became forever linked. Inspired by Iqbal’s story, Kielburger founded an organization that would become Free the Children when he was only 12 years old.
Free the Children has since gone on to become an international charity. On Feb. 5 Kielburger will be giving a presentation at UNB about Free the Children, its sister organization Me to We and the importance of global citizenship.
“He’s talking about how an individual can make a difference. So to get involved, whether you get involved here or whether you get involved in projects around the world or how can we make a positive impact in the world around us,” said Veronica McGinn, coordinator of international development at UNB.
Kielburger himself has already made an impact. As co-founder of a charity spanning 45 countries, an inductee of the Order of Canada at 24 years old and recipient of numerous honorary degrees, Kielburger has an impressive list of credentials.
His presentation is being offered in recognition of International Development Week, a Canada-wide, week-long initiative that aims to engage Canadians in global awareness.
McGinn said that Kielburger was chosen because of the involvement of the Fredericton community in Me to We, a social enterprise that raises money for Free the Children through the sale of socially-conscious merchandise.
“We have a lot of Me to We chapters in the high schools and the middle schools [in Fredericton] and there’s a lot going on here,” McGinn said. “It seems to be that if you know him, you know all about it and are really involved in it. But if you don’t know him, it’s like ‘well I don’t know him so it must not really matter.’ ”
“So we thought it would be a good idea to expose UNB students to what’s going on and support the local schools in their objectives of global awareness.”
The event will be held in the Currie Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is $8 for students and $10 for non-students.