We spend a few minutes with humanitarian, activist and social entrepreneur Craig Kielburger ’07 reminiscing about Trinity and learning about his life after the College
Why did you choose Trinity College?
I was completely drawn to its rich history and integrity as an educational institution.
What is your favourite place on the Trinity campus?
I lived on campus for four years. I have very fond memories from Cosgrave, but I loved Angel’s Roost.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Seeing the world through the eyes of a child, with the same sense of wonder and equality.
What is your greatest fear?
Living in a world of passive bystanders.
Which living person do you most admire?
Social Entrepreneur, creator of Grameen Bank, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Muhammad Yunus.
What advice would you give your first-year university self?
Firstly, no dream is too big. Secondly, achieving that dream is assisted by selecting a designated quiet dorm floor.
Tell us one thing about yourself that few people know.
I haven’t owned a TV in 20+ years.
On what occasion do you lie?
I’m of the belief that truth and honesty will always serve you better in life.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
I have always felt a strong emotional connection to the global community— anytime I’m able to visit a different part of the world, I am struck by inspiration.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
When I travel overseas, I’m told that I’m “very Canadian” with my attitude of gratitude—which reminds me: Have I thanked you yet for this fun opportunity?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My life for 20+ years was solely committed to social justice, and I wondered if I could “sacrifice” time for a family. I now know that it’s a false question. My wife, Leysa, and son, Hilson, made my heart grow bigger.
When and where were you happiest?
Almost always. Most recently, I witnessed the opening of the WE College in Kenya, which will include a college of medicine, engineering, education, technical studies, etc. The students started with us 15+ years ago in our first elementary school that we built.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I do a lot of air travel, so teleportation would be helpful.
What is your favourite treat or indulgence?
Shameless plug: our ME to WE Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate! It’s Fair Trade, and funds our development work in the Amazon basin of Ecuador.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Staying in the present. I’m already thinking about question 27.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
We started in 1995 with a dream of building one school. Today we’ve built over 1,500 schools and schoolrooms around the world serving students, and medical and health programs empowering over one million people.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Hilson’s (my son) teddy bear. It is much loved and often embraced. It was a gift from his grandmother, which she kept from my childhood.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring. The day I put it on, my perspective on life changed forever.
What do you most value in your friends?
Authenticity. And couches to sleep on when visiting their city.
Who are your favorite writers?
In no particular order: Thomas King, Viktor Frankl, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden.
Who is your hero of fiction?
Yoda, of course.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I look to Mother Teresa for inspiration. I still remember vividly when she told me, “We do no great things, only small acts of great love.”
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents, Fred and Theresa, came from very humble beginnings and taught me the lessons of hard work, family bonds, and fierce commitment to social justice.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
The Irish tell a story about God asking people to “show your scars.” If you had none, he would say “what a shame, was there nothing worth fighting for in your life?” I hope my scars are well-earned.
What is your favourite photo of yourself and why?
The first photo Leysa and I took with Hilson after he was born. It is one of many images of the three of us together, but the first of us as a family.