Two Siblings Turning Me to We

me to we

Craig and Marc Keilburger visit a Kenyan family.

TORONTO, Canada — “If you want to do really important things in life and big things in life, you cannot do anything by yourself. And your best teams are your friends and your siblings,” says Deepak Chopra, acclaimed author and public speaker. These words could not ring more true than when one looks at the accomplishments of Craig and Mark Keilburger – brothers, activists, humanitarians, social entrepreneurs and the founders of Free the Children.

The Journey to Social Change

At the age of 12, Craig Keilburger was drawn to the issue of child labour when he read an article in a local newspaper, titled “Battled Child Labour, Boy, 12, Murdered!” After learning that more than 215 million children were forced into working globally, Craig told the story to a group of his classmates and founded Free the Children. Free the Children, which is now an international charity and educational partner, originated as a group of 11 children who wrote letters, made phone calls and organised garage sales to raise funds. Since then, Craig’s accomplishments include a highly-publicised fact-finding mission in South Asia, an infamous encounter with the Prime Minister of Canada and an appearance on Oprah, which led to Oprah Winfrey partnering with Free the Children to build schools around the world.

Craig’s older brother, Mark, was working as a Page in the Canadian House of Commons, when a Member of Parliament asked him a simple question: “What kind of legacy do you want to leave, son?” It was this question that led him down a path of volunteerism, education, working with AIDs patients and volunteering with Free the Children.

Free the Children has grown in leaps and bounds since its initial launch. Today, the organisation works towards its mission of a “world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change,” through a variety of programmes that address the issues of education, clean water and sanitation, health, alternative income and food security. These programmes are both domestically focused, such as a comprehensive learning programme impacting 2.3 million young people, and internationally-focused, including the ability to Adopt a Village and an ethical fashion spin-off, Me to We.

Moreover, since 2007, Free the Children has held We Day annually. This annual “youth empowerment” event is held in cities across Canada and the United States, and has attracted 278,000 young people over the years. The event has drawn global leaders, social activists and public figures including Larry King, the Jonas Brothers, Elie Wiesel and Mike “Pinball” Clemons.

me to we

Canadian Students partaking in the annual Me to We event

Me to We

Me to We is Craig and Mark’s social enterprise spin off that blends the best of business and charitable practices together, redefining the financial bottom line to focus on profits and social impact. Built on the belief that consumers have the ability to vote with the way they spend their money, Me to We’s programming includes global volunteering trips, leadership sessions and camps, a speaker’s bureau and a store.

The brand has a brick-and-mortar location in Toronto, Canada and an online store. Their collection includes jewellery, bags, clothing, books, lifestyle products and other gifts. These products are handcrafted, sustainably-produced, and sweatshop free, and are sourced from Kenya, India, Ecuador, China, Arizona, Nicaragua and Ghana.

The Power of Siblings

Two siblings, with the motivation and passion for social change, created an organisation that strives to make the world a better place. Through their programming and building projects in over 45 countries, they have built over 650 schools and school rooms, helped 30,000 women achieve economic self-sufficiency, enabled 55,000 children to have access to education every day and given 1,000,000 people access to clean water, health care and sanitation worldwide. Now, as they help the ethical fashion and consumerism move forward with their Me to We store, it is exciting to see how the world of fashion and social change will continue to merge in the years to come.

Tarini Chandak About the author

Aspiring businesswoman and fashionista, bringing her youth perspective in the fashion space, ethical fashion movement and Canadian lifestyle trends. Working towards a degree in accounting and finance, she lets her creative side shine through her passion for writing, fashion and exploring the world.