Most Canadians have at sometime or another heard of Craig Kielburger, the adolescent who was so moved by an article on child slavery that he started the Free The Children organization when he was just in grade school. Recently nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, he has co-authored a book with his brother Marc- that's right, there's two activists in this family! Below, Craig talks about the book and how young people can develop the skills needed to make social changes in the world today.
So how has it been working with your brother? Family dynamic coming into play?
(Laughs.) It's great working with my older brother. That's the only way I could describe it. There's six years difference between the two of us so it's definitely brought us closer together. We travel together on the same trips, we've been all over the world bringing groups of kids to our development projects and there's nothing like brotherly bonding when you're riding on a mule for 12 hours under the pounding sun! We just laugh at some of the experiences we've shared together because they're so surreal.
We each have our own specific area that we are passionate about- Marc's passion is leadership and my passion is peace building but they interconnect so well. Now both of us could never imagine working on any projects that we weren't working on together. We have two more books coming out in the fall that we've both co-authored and it's something we really hadn't thought of before. Now if one of us has an idea, then we're both going to work on it together. Mind you, I think our family dinner conversations sometimes drive our parents insane because it's all we talk about, but we have very supportive parents too, so we're lucky.
What will readers get out of this book?
Well when we first started our organization we did everything the hard way. We found out we really had to do our research. We had to learn some of the basic things that unfortunately they don't teach you in school- how to create a petition or how to write a formal letter to the editor. The book we've created is a manual, a "how-to" book. It's everything we would've loved to have known when we first started. We discuss the magnitude of some of the social challenges facing Canada today and then give real concrete answers about how to go about making a change. How to organize a fundraiser, how to build a team, how to be a leader. Every single grade 10 student in the Toronto District School Board gets a copy of that book and they work with us on the curriculum. So we work with about 16,500 grade 10 students because these schools realise that this will help students through a specific education and through reaching their 40 hours of community service, but it particularly helps students with lifelong skills that aren't taught in school.