The renowned social activist, Craig Kielburger, spoke to Algonquin students on Jan. 29 about his desire to free young people from the idea that they are too young to make a difference.
Kielburger, who is co-founder of the Free the Children charity and the Me to We enterprise with his brother Marc, spoke in the Student Commons theatre. He requested for the lights to be raised so he could talk with his audience.
“I believe we all have a spark that makes us want to change something in the world,” Kielburger said, kneeling down on stage to get closer to the audience.
Students and faculty from the Woodroffe and Pembroke campuses, as well a group of high school students, attended Kielburger’s presentation.
Algonquin’s president, Cheryl Jensen, compared Kielburger to a rock star on stage.
“We are honoured to have him here,” said Jensen in an interview before the presentation. “Craig and Marc (Kielburger) center change around sustainability, finances, the environment, and society, which really covers it all.”
He spoke of his various life changing experiences, from meeting Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai to attending a graduation at an all girls boarding school in East Africa.
Kielburger also talked of his many inspirations. His mother was the most impactful, sparking his activism for the rights of children when he was only 12.
Laura Stanbra, vice president of Student Services, spoke of when Marc Kielburger, appeared at Algonquin in September. According to Stanbra, his presence provoked great involvement and community outreach amongst students and faculty.
“Me to We gets students engaged in more than what is in front of them,” said Lisa Roots, a professor at Algonquin. Roots is part of the college’s Spread the Net Club and was congratulated by Kielburger during his speech. The club has won the national Student Spread the Net Challenge for the past two years.
After his presentation, Kielburger met with students in the AC Hub. A baking and pastry arts student, Christina Boudreau, became emotional before meeting Kielburger.
“He changed my life,” said Boudreau, wiping tears from her eyes. “He’s doing so much at his age and it is so inspiring. He’s becoming one of those heroes, whether he realizes it or not, who is going down that path a lot of people don’t. He’s amazing.”
Boudreau hopes to start a baking therapy group after receiving her diploma.
Kielburger encouraged students to volunteer locally and if interested, apply to volunteer at Ottawa’s 2015 We Day on April 1 at the Canadian Tire Centre.