September 13, 2020 – Craig Kielburger, Co-Founder of the WE Charity, has advised us about WE Charity's decision to wind down operations in Canada, sell their Global Learning Centre and assets in Toronto, and use the proceeds to establish an endowment to sustain their global humanitarian programs and Canadian educational programs. As a result, the McKillen Foundation will seek to engage with other like-minded Canadian charities to provide youth leadership opportunities for Aboriginal communities and to promote reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

July 17, 2019 - Lives Transformed: Meet Sara. Six-year-old Sara is receiving life-changing cleft care, thanks to the work of Transforming Faces (TF). She lives with her family in a village called Nazareth, over 80km from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Her mother shares, "I was shocked when my baby was born!" noting that she had never even heard of cleft before. The local hospital did not provide the new parents with any information about cleft. Sara's mom remembers that "I left the clinic without knowing if my baby would live."

Sara and her mom. Image: Transforming Faces

Fortunately, she was referred to TF's local partner, and that's the moment everything changed. Sara's mom received nutritional counselling and information about how to feed her newborn. She also learned the good news – that cleft was completely treatable! Not only would her baby survive, but with access to comprehensive care, Sara would have a bright future ahead of her.

Sara was able to reach a healthy weight to receive her cleft lip and palate repair surgeries. Sara's mom says everything changed after her daughter's surgeries, and she realized that "my baby will live and go to school, just like the kids around her." As Sara has grown up, she has had continued to receive support from TF's partners – including regular speech therapy. When Sara first started school, the other kids couldn't understand her, and that really frustrated Sara. But ever since coming to her speech sessions, her communication has improved tremendously, and her mom reports that Sara now loves going to school. Her favourite subject is English, and she plans on being a pilot when she grows up.

Sara's isn't the only life impacted by Transforming Faces in Ethiopia last year. By supporting the launch of the speech profession in Ethiopia, the Terence & Svea McKillen Foundation is helping to provide children born with cleft in Ethiopia the opportunity to learn to communicate clearly, which in turn allows them to thrive at home, at school, and in their communities. You can also help with this work by visiting Transforming Faces.

June 28, 2019 - attended the launch of WE Stand Together (#WEstandtogether), an initiative of the WE organization, designed to strengthen ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, to encourage the reconciliation conversation and help build the future for a stronger, more united Canada. Through an enrichment program, WE Schools groups will have access to additional resources and activities to further explore Indigenous topics, to raise greater awareness about Indigenous history, cultures and traditions. We were honored to meet with Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Originally from Little Black Bear First Nation in Treaty 4 Territory, Chief Bellegarde has served as Tribal Council Representative for the Touchwood-File Hills-Qu'Appelle Tribal Council, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Saskatchewan Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, as well as Chief and Councillor for the Little Black Bear First Nation. He has experience and expertise in leadership at all levels of First Nations governance. In 2014, the Chiefs-in-Assembly first elected him as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He was re-elected to the position in July 2018.

"Talitha Tolles of WE with Grand Chief Bellegarde"

"Cody Coyote & Theland Kicknosway with Grand Chief Bellegarde"

In his address, Chief Bellegarde spoke of the necessity to move forward while at the same time never forgetting the past. His national platform and agenda, 'Closing the Gap,' remains a top priority for First Nations. The Gap is the vast difference in the quality of life experienced by First Nations people and non-Indigenous Canadians. The Gap is a fundamental human rights issue, inclusive of First Nations' collective rights to land and self-determination. The Gap should not exist in a country as rich as Canada. The Gap is holding all of us back from building healthy and thriving First Nations and a stronger Canada. Now is the time for reconciliation. We can only achieve reconciliation with closing the gap. The gap between First Nations and Canada is well documented. In recent years, Canada has ranked between 6th and 8th on the UN Human Development Index while First Nations fall between 63rd and 78th.

Also participating in the morning's event was Talitha Tolles, Associate Director, Indigenous Relations, Global Program Innovation and Development at WE who introduced the Grand Chief as well as First Nation's hip-hop artist, Cody Coyote and traditional hoop dancer, Theland Kicknosway. Click Here for a video of the WE Stand Together event.

April 8, 2019 - received an update report from Hugh Brewster, Executive Director at Transforming Faces who had just returned from an intense and inspiring trip to Ethiopia.

Hugh reported on some of the new partnership leads that Transforming Faces are pursuing which are directly connected to the Speech Language Pathology (SLP) work that the McKillen Foundation has been supporting.

The first and second cohorts of SLP students in Ethiopia are on track to graduate in July of this year. It was a difficult road for them - they had to endure periods of not having qualified professors (before we were able to partner with the University of Toronto to send some experts for short teaching stints) and push through a lack of understanding in the wider health sector about what an SLP actually could contribute to a child's rehabilitation. Their internship with Yekatit 12 hospital last summer (which was supported by the McKillen Foundation) was listed as a highlight of their program - that inspired them to persevere to graduation.

"Some of the first cohort of SLPs"

"Hugh with a mom & son who are so grateful for their care" - Images courtesy of Transforming Faces

Hugh reported on his meetings with a hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia (about a 1 hour flight from Addis Ababa) and with a private children's hospital in Addis Ababa that specializes in Cleft work. Both are keen to hire the SLP graduates to enhance the rehabilitative support they offer children.

He also spent time meeting some cleft patients and families around Addis. Their gratitude for the holistic support that their children received, and that was well beyond what they could imagine procuring themselves, was very encouraging.

April 1, 2019 - met with Morag Stewart and Kristen McComb of Philantrophy/Donor Relations at Trillium Health Partners Foundation regarding the provision of new oncology treatment delivery at the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.

The McKillen Foundation is pleased to join with Trillium Health Partners Foundation in providing support for the Regional Cancer Program at CVH by funding the acquisition of a number of advanced technology syringe pumps which are used to deliver subcutaneous chemotherapy treatment. The new equipment reduces a patient's treatment time to under 30 minutes from up to three-hours required for intravenously administered chemotherapy treatment. The new equipment not only improves patient experience but also allows more patients to be treated at the Centre at any given time. This investment ensures that as our community continues to grow and change, patients will continue to have access to the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Image courtesy of THPF

Trillium Health Partners Foundation is dedicated to raising critical funds needed to address the highest priority needs of the hospitals within Trillium Health Partners. Further information and to donate to the work of the THPF can be found at Trillium Health Partners Foundation.

March 2, 2018 - attended a reception hosted by the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation to help establish the Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN – a world first in transplant medicine.

The Centre's mission is to champion living organ donation, optimize living donor follow-up care for life and foster high impact research and educational initiatives in the field of living donor transplantation.

My Left Kidney Donation Experience by Brendan Cahill makes an interesting read.

The Future of Transplantation Begins Here Check out this explanatory video.

Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation raises funds for research, education and the enhancement of patient care at Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, as well as the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. Together with its donors, the Foundation is helping UHN pursue the knowledge that makes all our lives better.

January 16, 2018 - Kim Plewes, Senior Advisor, Executive Office of WE has updated us on the WE Learn Together programme.

It's been just over a year since the launch of one of WE's newest educator resources, WE Learn Together, and we are proud to share that it's been received with enthusiasm and excitement by educators right across the country. This resource guide helps educators bring Indigenous Canadian history, culture and experiences into the classroom. As Canadians begin to seek reconciliation in light of our country's dark history of mistreatment towards Indigenous Peoples, educators are poised to help create an enormous shift in Canada's national and generational mindset. Yet, many educators didn't know how to bring this conversation into their classrooms or facilitate it in a compelling and inclusive manner.

Some feed-back received:

"We have had a class discussion to learn the facts and I have shown a video made by students in Saskatchewan. My students were surprised and appalled at the treatment of Aboriginal families in Canada. Especially, how recent it happened. We will continue to have conversations and are wearing orange in support of reconciliation and survivors during our whole school assembly tomorrow." – Julie (Cherryville Elementary, School District #22, Vernon)

"The resources you have sent have been very helpful and valuable!" – Joanne (Evans Elementary, School District #33 Chilliwack)

"We focused on learning about the lack of access to clean water on many First Nations reserves across Canada. We showed videos, had an assembly, and also did a week-long fundraiser where we asked classes to fill plastic water bottles with change. This resource really helped us gain a better understanding." – Educator, Canadian Martyrs Catholic Elementary School, ON.

This resource is, however, just one of the many ways that the Terence & Svea McKillen Foundation is supporting WE's ability to expand its Indigenous peoples-focused programming and create new opportunities for students across Canada to better engage with the national reconciliation dialogue.

As part of the annual WE Stand Together campaign, the McKillen Foundation is supporting the production of a video series that will showcase Indigenous youth who have identified issues they are truly passionate about, how they are affected by that issue and what they are doing to take action. Each video will end with a unique call to action for the youth watching the video. These videos will be complimented by curriculum resources for educators and discussion questions for students on issues ranging from lack of access to clean water to bullying of Indigenous youth to Métis veteran recognition.

One of the videos will feature Lisa Charleyboy, who spoke on the WE Day stage. Lisa is a First Nations writer and social entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of Urban Native Magazine, which focuses on pop culture with an Indigenous twist. Lisa's video brings light to the lack of representation of Indigenous people in the media and the negative effects this absence can have on young people. With such a strong success story, this video will showcase resilience and positivity to young people in Canada and open their eyes to the idea of seeking out diverse media sources that bring unique voices and experiences to the conversation.

October 15, 2017 - Attended the Dalit Freedom Network Canada's "Rescuing Children at Risk" annual dinner event at Brampton which raised funds to provide free English language based education for children at risk in the Temple Prostitution areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana states.

Special guest speaker, Ms. Jeeva Swamy, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking for the Dalit Freedom Network spoke movingly about the plight of young women and girls who are forced into a lifetime of ritual sex slavery through the practice of joginis or devadasis.

September 28, 2017 - Attended WE Day Toronto where HRH Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the Air Canada Centre to participate in the celebrations. Prince Harry took time away from championing the Invictus Games in Toronto to back WE's youth empowerment event. Prince Harry urged the crowd of 20,000 young people to work together and help one another in order to build a brighter future. "We are stronger when we work together", he said and also spoke about environmental sustainability.

Joining some extrordinary young Canadians who spoke of overcoming challenges and chosing to adopt the WE Movement's motto of "making doing good, doable" were well-known inspirational speakers including Rick Hansen, Canada's Man in Motion, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well representatives from the entertainment world such as as Kelly Clarkson, Vanessa Hudgens, Lilly Singh, George Takei and Mia Farrow, as well as Canadian Olympians Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse.

September 27, 2017 - Attended the official opening of the WE Global Learning Centre in Toronto. Guest speakers included former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and HRH Princess Beatrice of York.

The $15-million facility, located in a retrofitted former furniture store at the corner of Queen and Parliament streets, will allow the We youth-empowerment organization to help more young people, in more communities, to make a meaningful impact on global issues such as homelessness, sustainability and water security.

"Cutting the Ribbon"

"Kenyan Boys Choir" - Images courtesy of WE

The centre has two main purposes: to give students around the world the tools and support they need to create positive social change, and to support educators in delivering service-based curricula through the We Schools program.

The WE organization currently engages with 14,500 schools in Canada, the U.S. and Britain. In Canada alone, the organization has supported 1.8 million young people in their efforts to make the world a better place. The new centre will be key to the organization's five-year goal of expanding the We Schools program to 24,000 schools.

September 20, 2017 - Hugh Brewster, Executive Director of Transforming Faces has shared some images from Ethiopia where the McKillen Foundation is providing assistance in training speech therapy workers at the Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa.

Hugh provides some insight into the success of Transforming Faces' work in Ethiopia in his blog entitled "Meet 6-year-old Mekdelawit from Ethiopia." Mekdelawit's parents have said, "Mekdelawit doesn't just belong to us, our daughter belongs to everyone who supported her rehabilitation."

Images courtesy of Transforming Faces

May 24, 2017 - The McKillen Foundation continues to support and consult with WE in their efforts to engage Canadian youth and adults through advancing an understanding and celebration of the culture of Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

With financial and other support from the McKillen Foundation, WE has released an updated version of WE Learn Together, an Educator's Resource Guide intended to be used as part of curricula in schools across Canada. The Guide provides resources, readings and lessons plans designed to approach the topics of Indigenous cultures, histories, and traditions through empathy and understanding. The guide is available on the Aboriginal Programming section of WE's website.

Image courtesy of WE

April 13, 2017 – The Dalit Freedom Network , has shared an inspirational story of Supna, a Dalit child on the cusp of a beautiful future.

November 18, 2016 – WE (formerly Free the Children) have announced the release of new resource programming for Canadian schools developed with ongoing financial support and guidance from the McKillen Foundation.

The program will help teachers bring aspects of First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture into the classroom. In a climate of change, when Canada is ready to acknowledge its dark history of the treatment of Indigenous Peoples and seek reconciliation, teachers are poised to help create the biggest shift in national and generational mindset. "There is a serious lack of relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples," says Charlene Bearhead, Education Lead at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Craig and Marc Kielburger, Co-Founders of WE, commented, "We are so grateful to our friends and champions who have supported the development of programming and resources for communities and educators that tell the stories of First Nations, Métis and Inuit. We would like to highlight the longstanding commitment of the Terence and Svea McKillen Foundation. Their guidance and mentorship has been unwavering and we are grateful for their support in developing this resource as a component of WE's programming."

October 2, 2016 – Canadian Safe School Network Founder, Stu Auty has advised us that the BullyStop Challenge introduced earlier in the year with support from the McKillen Foundation, has been a great success.

The BullyStop programme is a full-day interactive and creative event that involves high school and university students discussing social media and help put an end to cyberbullying by designing iOS apps. Groups of high school youth will work with post-secondary student mentors and alongside experts in tech, education, and law enforcement to brainstorm, sketch, and design solutions, that can help eliminate cyberbullying. No coding experience is necessary. Teams work to come up with a great idea, then find an exciting way to pitch it to the rest of the room. Drawings, skits, ads are all encouraged. One winning team is selected and receives an award. All ideas are eligible to be developed into real apps by CSSN. For further information, please click here.

June 27, 2016 – Free the Children Founder, Craig Kielburger has advised us that he recently spent the day at Ashukan Cultural Centre in Montreal celebrating the annual WE Stand Together Campaign. WE Stand Together is a WE Schools campaign celebrating Aboriginal Canadians' huge contributions to Canada's past, present and future, while bringing to light the challenges they face. The goal is to create a dialogue for students to share with family and friends, sparking greater awareness of Canadian history.

Images courtesy of Free The Children

The day started with a traditional Smudge Ceremony, followed by an introductory speech from Chief Ghislain Picard, Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. Former Canadian Prime Minister, and founder of Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, Paul Martin, delivered a powerful speech on the importance of increasing Aboriginal Canadian history in Quebec's school curriculum.

Also present was Free The Children team member, Talitha Tolles, a young Aboriginal Canadian woman who has been touring across Canada for the past three years raising awareness through WE Stand Together and her personal story. Talitha action planned with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal high school students at the event, and a highlight was seeing these students working together to create ties between communities.

The McKillen Foundation have supported Free the Children's Aboriginal Programming for several years, including a three-year pilot programme to increase access to Aboriginal leadership development and youth empowerment in the Cree communities of Northern Quebec. More recently, the Foundation has been the lead sponsor for the development of supplementary resources for educators who work with Aboriginal youth. Together with Free the Children, these initiatives have resulted in the empowerment of Canadian youth, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals, to stand together for equality.

June 1, 2016 – attended a meeting with the management and board of directors of Transforming Faces to meet with two members of the cleft palate team from the Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa, including Dr. Shiferaw Degu (Orthodontist/Maxillofacial Surgeon) and Hirut Mengistu (Social worker).

The McKillen Foundation has helped Transforming Faces provide vital surgical equipment to the Ethiopian hospital as well as supporting the training of speech therapists at the University of Addis Ababa.

January 21, 2016 – Transforming Faces - have provided us with a year-end update on the work being achieved by the cleft palate department of the Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa.

The McKillen Foundation has helped Transforming Faces provide vital surgical equipment to the Ethiopian hospital where the cleft palate team is now busy preparing to train staff and make use of the new electrosurgery machine. After extensive research, Transforming Faces finalized the Italian-made "Diatrom-300" electrosurgery machine for the cleft facility.

Images courtesy of Transforming Faces | before and after surgery at Yekatit 12

Lack of quality surgical equipment has been major obstacle for the team at Yekatit 12 in providing safe and quality surgeries for cleft patients.

November 5, 2015 – Dalit Freedom Network - met today with David Lundy, Development Director Dalit Freedom Network Canada (DFN) and Kumar Swamy, South India Regional Director Dalit Freedom Network, to hear first-hand about the work of DFN in providing education for a generation of Dalit children throughout India. Through the provision of quality education, from primary through high school, DFN is providing each Dalit child with the key to freedom from the stigma of over three thousand years of social slavery within India's rigid caste system. Education is the path to freedom for Dalit children and their families. The children receive a quality, English medium education, free from verbal and physical abuse.

David shared with us the story of Suraya, who was rescued from a life of poverty and child labour, receiving an education through DFN and going on to graduate, top of her class, from teacher training college. Earlier this year, she returned to her childhood school as a qualified teacher. To read other inspiring stories, please click here.

In addition to education programmes across India, DFN also empowers Dalit men and women through vocational training and micro-enterprise projects as well as public health education and disease prevention in rural areas of India.

The McKillen Foundation is financially supporting the work of the Dalit Freedom Network of Canada in bringing education to Dalit children in India.

October 23, 2015 - For Free the Children, this year marks a particularly significant milestone: 20 years. At the McKillen Foundation, we are proud to have been along for much of this journey with Marc and Craig Kielburger and their team and have witnessed the remarkable growth since both were young boys.

We've watched We Days expand across three countries and their domestic program, WE Schools, being welcomed into more than 10,000 schools across Canada, the US and the UK.

Over the past number of years, we have enthusiastically supported Free the Children in implementing a new programme to bring their classroom resources and staff support to Aboriginal young people in northern Quebec.

We also know that Free the Children is an organization that is on the brink of transforming education at home in Canada as well as in communities around the world. They have some big visions for the next 20 years. Among these dreams is the desire to ensure that all Aboriginal youth across Canada have access to the types of educational resources that will equip them with the skills they – and all young people – need as they embark on a journey of creating change, however incremental.

We are proud to have put our support behind this vision, enabling the Free the Children team to get started this year in enhancing their existing materials with supplementary resources for educators who work with Aboriginal youth, and those youth themselves. We are excited to watch the team's progress on this project throughout this academic year as they prepare to distribute the material to educators for the next academic year.

October 1, 2015 - Attended We Day celebrations in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre together with over 20,000 students. Students can't buy a ticket to We Day — they earn it by taking at least one local and one global action through We Schools, a year-long educational program that engages, educates and empowers young people to become compassionate leaders and active citizens. We Day is more than a one-day event, it is the movement of our time — a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day brings young people together to celebrate the actions that they are taking in their local and global communities and to inspire another year of change by sharing their passion for social change.

The 8th annual event attracted the usual excellent number of supporting celebrities with Shawn Mendes, Nick Jonas, Carly Rae Jepsen, Demi Lovato and Hozier among those performing and others such as Henry Winkler, Spencer West, Tyrone Edwards, Michael Pinball Clemons and Silken Laumann joining the host of young Canadians who were able to relate their personal stories where often underrepresented aspects of social change were brought into focus, thereby becoming a powerful force for change.

Henry Winkler who played the cool and trendy Fonzie in the 1970s American sitcom "Happy Days" told the audience that English and Math were hard for him as a high school student as he is dyslexic. Because of his learning disability, Winkler took geometry for four years until completing the course with a D minus.

"We all have a challenge and each of us have a different one," Winkler said. "You are not defined by your challenge you are defined by your tenacity. You are defined by your power."

July 28, 2015 - Free the Children has reported on the completion of a three-year pilot programme sponsored by the McKillen Foundation to increase access to Aboriginal leadership development and youth empowerment in the Cree communities of Northern Quebec. The Cree are the largest First Nation group in Canada, with over 200,000 members; 16,000+ of whom live within the James Bay region.

Through the We Act service learning program, Free the Children provided foundational-level skills for kids to become leaders in their own communities. Despite the various challenges that some of these youth face on a day-to-day basis, we were gratified to see the participants encouraged to fundraise and partake in solutions to social justice issues in both their own communities and overseas.

Image courtesy of Free the Children

Under the programme, students in the Cree Nation of Wemindji were so inspired by their action planning that they decided to take their leadership skills and apply them internationally. In the summer of 2014, a group of 15 Cree high school students came together with five of their teachers to organize and fundraise for a Me to We volunteer trip to Nicaragua where they worked in the rural community of El Trapiche far away from the luxuries of electricity and running water. The group from Wemindji worked as part of a local construction crew on an Adopt a Village project, helping to build a garden behind the preschool so that the students would have nutritious snacks while at school. The teachers spearheading this project were incredibly successful in engaging the Cree students to not only fundraise and commit to such a large project, but also open their eyes on their local and global community. According to one of the teachers, "Participating students have experienced a life-changing school year. We have seen their efforts positively impact their personal lives and that of their community."

As a result of our partnership with Free the Children, the Cree students have been able to accomplish a number of goals:

  • Five schools participated in Free the Children's campaigns (We Bake for Change, We Stand Together, and We Create Change)
  • A significant increase was recorded in confidence among participants
  • Enhanced leadership skills among participants in the programming
  • An increased sense of involvement, ownership and pride in the student's community and education
  • 268 Cree students attended We Day in Montreal and Ottawa
  • Enabled students to address and collaborate with their peers on such issues as:
    • General Leadership • Bullying • Drug Abuse • Self Esteem • Volunteering
  • "Free The Children has been an inspiration to many Cree children and youth. We are pleased to be invited and participate in many events that encourage our children to make a difference in their communities and the global community, and by doing so change their lives as well. A group of our youth went to Nicaragua to help build a school for a local Indigenous community. The ability to share and leave other children in the world with something that will change their lives too is simply amazing. We adopted Free the Children as a partnership, as they share our underlying philosophy that we are all interconnected, and age is not a factor in being able to make a difference in people's lives. We are inspired by the change we can see in the world around us, and ourselves." Donald Nicholls, Director of the Cree Regional Authority Department of Justice and Correctional Services

    "The Cree Nation has been fortunate to be part of Free The Children organization for a few years. Cree youth have an opportunity to be engaged to help local people to people around the world. This opportunity has opened their eyes to see the difference they are making around the world to their home community. Young people are inspired." Ashley Iserhoff, Life Coach and former Deputy Grand Chief


    Refer to Free the Children's Aboriginal Programming.

    July 7, 2015 - Stu Auty, President of Canadian Safe Schools Network, advises that CSSN's new video "Kids Read Mean Tweets" (see below) won a Bronze Lion at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The Cannes Festival is a global event for those working in the creative communications, advertising and related fields.

    This is a great achievement and congratulations to the CSSN and john st. teams. The on-line video and its underlying message has received wide acclaim with over 4 million hits worldwide.

    February 3, 2015 - Stu Auty, President of The Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN) announced a new initiative to raise awareness of the negative impact that cyberbullying has on children.

    Image courtesy of CSSN

    Stu refers to Jimmy Kimmel's "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" segment that is frequently aired on his talk show and posted online. While celebrity mean tweets make for great late night comedy, real-life cyberbullying is reaching epidemic proportions. With parents, teachers, and the law unable to keep pace with ever-evolving social media channels, Canadians are fighting a losing battle to stop cyber bullying among children and teens. A new partnership between the Canadian Safe School Network and Toronto advertising agency, john st. , is taking an unusual approach to stem the tide and put an end to the practice.

    Using a crowd funding campaign to raise the money for media buys, CSSN hopes to raise enough to buy ad space during the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs; and hopes to air a video with a heart-wrenching spin on Kimmel's "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets".

    For kids, words can cut like a knife. Cyberbullying is an epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there's no way out. It's time to take away the stigma, get people talking, and eliminate this problem once and for all. Please take a minute to view this powerful video Kids Read Mean Tweets and help spread the message.

    February 3, 2015 - Transforming Faces has provided us with an update on their Speech Therapy programme in Ethiopia.

    Image courtesy of Transforming Faces

    The Capacity Building for Speech-Language Therapy in Ethiopia project has made great strides during 2014. With only one speech-therapy unit in Ethiopia (population 94 million), which is located at Yekatit 12 (a partner hospital), there is, however, a major unmet demand for speech therapy services due to a severe lack of trained professionals.

    With the support of the McKillen Foundation and matching partnerships, the project has enabled Transforming Faces to pursue a three-pronged approach to building local speech therapy capacity: the use of speech assistants; the development of a speech-language therapy undergraduate degree program; and skills upgrading for Ethiopia's single qualified speech therapist.

    February 2, 2015 - Free the Children has provided an update on the Youth Leadership programme within the Cree communities of northern Quebec (Eeyou Istchee) supported by the McKillen Foundation.

    All nine schools that Free the Children has been engaging to date have now signed up for the We Act program and received their We Act kits. Two schools have secured some or all of the funding necessary (and earned their way!) to We Day. One school will be attending the Montreal We Day event and the other the National We Day in Ottawa.

    One of those schools is Lake Matteweskum where a considerable part of the fall was spent in workshops that focused on issue exploration and expanding leadership skills. They have organized a bake sale to support an organization they are connected to, called Heshima, that is supporting education in Kenya. They are also actively fundraising to cover the outstanding balance in order to travel to We Day Montreal.

    Image courtesy of Free the Children

    Another school attending We Day (National) is Maquatua, the school that went to Nicaragua this past summer. Throughout the fall they were looking for creative ways to share their experience in Nicaragua with the school community. They have also signed up for two of Free the Children's campaigns: We Bake for Change and We Create Change.

    Mistissini School recently invited Spencer West to come and address the student body. He shared his keynote, "No Can't, No Won't, Only How: Overcoming Obstacles to Make a Difference". In the lead up, they had sold some of Me to We's rafikis as part of a fundraiser to build a school and were eager to hear from him some other ideas on how they can lead some successful fundraisers throughout the spring.


    October 22, 2014 - Attended We Day celebrations at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver where host, Selena Gomez, multi-platinum recording artist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador introduced the speakers and performers to the 20,000 educators and youth in attendance.

    October 11, 2014 - Free the Children has advised us of their delight with the joint conferring of the Nobel Peace Prize to two of its supporters in the issue of children's rights - Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyar.

    As an organization whose roots come firmly from fighting for the rights of children around the world, and one that holds at the core of its mission a belief in the power of young people to change the world, Free the Children are very proud to celebrate alongside these two incredible individuals.

    Image source: The Political Student

    This exciting moment for children's rights is also relevant as both laureates have also played such an important part in Free The Children's history. Kailash holds a deeply important and valued place in the history of Free The Children's humble beginnings. As a group of twelve 12-year-olds in 1995, Free The Children's first ever action was a petition to free Kailash from prison, after he was detained for his fight against child labour. Their first-ever project was then to fund Bal Ashram, the rehabilitation centre set up by Kailash to house the children rescued from slavery. In India, Free the Children co-founder, Craig Kielburger had the honour of marching with him in protest of bonded servitude for children.

    Twenty years later, in the spring of 2014, Malala joined Me to We in Kenya on her first trip to Africa, spending several days speaking to girls in rural communities about their passion for education and taking up a shovel to help build Free The Children's Oleleshwa All-Girls' Secondary School. Malala then spoke at the first We Day UK, where she inspired 12,000 youth, and took a silent stand for girls around the world who don't have access to education as part of Free The Children's "We Are Silent" campaign. Through the Malala Fund, Malala works to ensure every child has the right to an education, and her dedication has already changed the lives of so many.

    October 2, 2014 - Attended We Day celebrations in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. We Day is more than a one-day event, it is the movement of our time — a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day brings young people together to celebrate the actions that they are taking in their local and global communities and to inspire another year of change by sharing the passion of world leaders and entertainers. We Day is tied to the year-long We Act program, which offers educational resources, campaigns and support materials to help turn the event's inspiration into sustained action.

    This year's We Day was a little differently presented from that of previous years. We Day was transformed into the largest (and loudest) classroom in the world! To start the school day, youth got moving to Kardinal Offishall and Karl Wolf's new song We Turn it Up, following which participants settled into their seats for the first class of the day – Economic Empowerment.

    Robin Wiszowaty was the first period teacher and introduced a special guest speaker - Mama Leah who had travelled all the way from Kenya to speak about the impact Me to We Artisans has had on her life. "Now I am empowered. Now we are empowered, now we have jobs, now we have a future and a say in our communities." Substitute teacher, Nelly Furtado, introduced two students from Free The Children's Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School. Irene and Joan told the crowd how they received their education and how they are now economically empowered female leaders in their community.

    Next came a technology class with Spencer West introducing We365 and explained how it helps to change the world from the palm of one's hand. Spencer introduced an innovative Canadian who has soared in space as Commander of the ISS. Chris Hadfield encouraged the audience to become technological explorers. "The decisions you make, the actions you take they will create your own future" he told the crowd. "They will change the world around you." Chris then introduced rocket scientist Natalie Panek who dared the audience "to achieve the impossible".

    In the next class, Hannah Alper and Shawn Desman taught Social Empowerment demonstrating the importance of treating others who are different with kindness. The audience was completely silent for motivational youth speaker Ashley Murphy, who shared her experiences living with HIV and how she overcomes the challenges. "We can all turn our weaknesses into strengths" she said to the crowd.

    The last class of the day focused on education. Craig Kielburger stepped in as teacher for this class, and shared his passion for education and embracing your natural skills. "You are gifted, we all have a gift, something unique to share" he said. Katie Couric then spoke about her upcoming documentary Fed Up and how she educated herself on a cause she cares about to create it. Following Katie came another champion of education who has followed in his grandfather's footsteps. Kweku Mandela, Nelson Mandela's grandson spoke about Madiba, emphasizing that empowerment means freedom. "Seize this moment because it is yours", he said.

    Throughout the day the crowd of 20,000 were often on their feet, singing along with performers such as Lights, Hedley, Neverest, R5 and Kardinal Offishall!

    July 7, 2014 - Free the Children has advised us that a group of 17 high school students from the northern Quebec Cree community of Wemindji have come together with three of their teachers to organize and fundraise for a "Me to We" trip to Nicaragua this summer. The criteria for participating in the trip were:

    • 80% attendance to classes
    • Attend all fundraising activities
    • Attend all meetings
    • Meet all trip deadlines

    The three teachers have spearheaded this project and have been incredibly successful in engaging the participating students to not only fundraise and commit to such a large project, but also open their eyes on their local and global community. The teachers noted, "Participating students have experienced a life-changing school year" and "We have seen their efforts positively impact their personal lives and that of their community."

    The McKillen Foundation is financially supporting Free the Children's aboriginal leadership programme in several northern Quebec Cree communities.

    May 4, 2014 - Attended one of the stops of the We Create Change Tour at David Leeder Middle School in Mississauga. Free the Children's Spencer West has embarked on a road trip (90 stops in 10 weeks) to help Canadian youth go further in making change. Joined by special guests and We Day talent like Hannah Alper and Neverest, Spencer is touring school communities to celebrate all of the positive change that Canadian youth are making during the Year of Education.

    Every $20 donated provides a brick — the cornerstone of a new school that will open doors for hundreds of children and lay the foundation for thriving Free The Children communities. Change starts with one child, one classroom, one dream, but when we work together, it reaches an entire generation.


    April 30, 2014 - Supported Habitat for Humanity | Mississauga "Strength in Giving, Families Helping Families" in their mission to ensure that everyone in Mississauga has a decent, affordable and safe place to call home.

    In the Fall of 2013, MHFH was able to close on a townhome in the Erin Mills neigbourhood that will be renovated for a Habitat partner family. They are currently getting ready to start the renovations.

    January 18, 2014 - According to Public Safety Canada, the federal government will use television and online advertising to raise awareness about cyberbullying and the possible legal consequences of tormenting people. Justice Minister Peter MacKay said on January 9, 2014, at a Halifax school, that the national campaign is aimed at protecting children online.

    Cyberbullying can cross the line from schoolyard teasing to sustained harassment that can be shared instantly with any number of people, can reach targets anywhere in the world, and can occur 24/7. Cyberbullying isn't limited to just 'bad kids'. It is alarmingly common and can come from a place of peer pressure or retaliation. Your child could have gotten caught up in something that is now spreading like wildfire, outside of their control.

    November 25, 2013 - Attended We Day celebrations in Montreal at Théâtre St-Denis. This was our first Montreal We Day and were amazed at the enthuasism and commitment demonstrated by the 2000+ participants.

    We were particularly touched by visually impared Me to We motivational speaker Molly Burke who advocates against bullying and for the power of hope.

    Other motivational speakers included Spencer West, Hanna Alper, Martin Luther King III, and Dr. Ismail El-Hamamsy while entertainers included Sam Roberts, Neverest, the Oducado Twins, the Kenyan Boys Choir and Les Soeurs Boulay.

    More than a one-day event, We Day is the movement of our time—a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day is tied to the year-long We Act program, which offers educational resources, campaigns and support materials to help turn the event's inspiration into sustained activation. Through We Act, students commit to taking one local and one global action to better the world, earning their way to We Day.

    Sam Roberts on stage

    October 10, 2013 - Attended an Evening of Music and Good Company at the Regent Park School of Music to celebrate the presentation of third level scholarships to five graduating students.

    Some of the 2013 RSM Graduates
    Photo courtesy of RPSM

    RPSM implemented a 5-year development plan in 2010 to grow its programmes by 2015 into a fully-developed new curriculum providing 3,000 student music education experiences per year.

    Throughout this expansion period, the School's core goal is to significantly augment the amount of music-making it outputs on an annual basis. RPSM will maintain its current Royal Conservatory of Music programs and use a musical ability and achievement approach to match students to those one-on-one programmes.

    RPSM aims to provide high quality, affordable music education to youth-in-need from Regent Park and other areas of the City of Toronto and aims to become one of the City's most unique music education institutions, offering progressive programs and a creative curriculum that leads to collaborative music making; and a centre of excellence in the community, fostering future leaders and mentors.

    October 1, 2013 - We have received an update report from Free The Children in its partnership with the Terence and Svea McKillen Foundation to provide its domestic programming, called We Act, to students and educators in nine Cree communities in the James Bay region of Northern Québec, including Whapmagoostui, Chisasibi, Nemaska, Wemindji, Mistissini Lake, Waskaganish, Waswanipi, Ouje-Bougoumou, and Eastmain.

    At the Maquatua Eeeyou School which is located in Wemindji, about 1,400km north of Montréal, the students were inspired by Ishmael Beah's novel A Long Way Gone about the war in Sierra Leone, and have chosen to raise money to support the Education pillar of the Adopt a Village model in Sierra Leone, through Free The Children's Brick by Brick campaign.

    Photo courtesy of Free the Children

    Photo courtesy of Free the Children

    Through the delivery of the We Act program over three academic years from 2012-2014, our partnership with Free the Children will educate, engage, and empower young people and help to support leadership development. Since the launch of We Act within these nine schools at We Day Montréal on November 22, 2012, Free The Children has placed a strong focus on strengthening the relationships it holds within the schools and communities in the James Bay region. Together with Free The Children we are helping to lay the groundwork for sustainable youth empowerment programs within these communities.

    September 20, 2013 - attended the We Day celebrations at Toronto's Air Canada Centre celebrating the world-changing power of youth . We Day was launched in 2007 by Craig and Marc Kielburger of Free the Children to educate young activists on how to make a difference in the world. Free the Children considers We Day as "the movement of our time, empowering a generation of young global citizens through an inspirational event and a year-long educational initiative." It kick-starts the year-long We Act programme which for 2013/14 has the goal of building 200 schools in developing countries through a coin collecting campaign. Over $37 million has been raised to date.

    The 20,000 plus students who earned their tickets to We Day by participating in local and global action over the previous year, were motivated, inspired and entertained by presentations, speeches and performances by Demi Lovato, Serena Ryder, the Jonas Brothers, the Oducado Twins, Chris Tse and the Kenya Boys Choir, retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, Martin Luther King III, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn and Liberian President and Nobel Laureat, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    An inspiring day for all.

    July 18, 2013 - we are pleased to be associated with the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation through sponsorship of Ben Batson as he joins over 125 cyclists in Tour for Kids Alberta; an epic ride in support of children living with and beyond cancer.

    As Canada's only national charity devoted to fighting childhood cancer, Coast To Coast Against Cancer ensures 100% of receiptable funds raised go toward improving the survival rate and quality of life of children and their families impacted by cancer. Funds are raised by conducting memorable events that encourage active and healthy lifestyles. From cycling rides to team-building activities, children across the country benefit from the generous support of sponsors, participants, donors and volunteers.

    Ben at the start

    As Ben grinds out over 100 km each day along the Canadian Rockies, the donations raised are going to the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta where programs are designed so every child, regardless of physical reality, is able to participate fully in all activities. Offering kids a chance for good old-fashioned fun, camp encourages personal growth, promotion of important values such as belonging, leadership, respect, mastery, independence and generosity.

    April 9, 2013 - visited the Regents Park School of Music to meet with Director, Richard Marsella, M.Mus., and toured the new 3,000 sq.ft. purpose-built suite that RPSM has been allocated in the new Daniels Spectrum building which houses a very active community arts and cultural centre in the heart of Regents Park. The school premises comprises seven soundproof studios, a music library and a rehearsal hall.

    One of RPSM's choirs in rehersal

    Renowned designer, Bruce Mau, provided a wall-sized mural for the lobby and is working on the school's branding efforts. With access to the new premises since September 2012, RPSM is well on the way to achieving its goal of providing lessons to 3,000 inner-city children by 2015.

    A recent special to the Globe & Mail by John Loring (Friday, March 1, 2013) entitled "An upbeat move for Regent Park Music School" described the work of RPSM in more depth.

    February 26, 2013 - attended the 16th Annual Safe School Conference organised by the The Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN) at the International Convention Centre in Mississauga. As representatives of the McKillen Foundation we had the honour of introducting, for the second year, the keynote speaker, who this year was the CBC's Mark Kelley.

    Mark Kelley, the Gemini award winning CBC television broadcaster who currently is co-host of the investigative news programme "The Fifth Estate" spoke eloquently on the subject of making our schoools bullyproof. His presentation was based on his award-winning CBC documentary BullyPROOF: Classroom Confidental.

    For a week in the spring of 2012, Mark together with a team from CBC-TV's "Connect" set up a video booth in a high school in Gatineau, Que. More than 150 students streamed into the booth to pour out their personal anecdotes about bullying. They revealed an array of raw stories from all perspectives — the bully, the bullied and the bystanders — as well as how they try to "bullyproof" themselves.

    September 26, 2012 - attended the We Day celebrations at Toronto's Air Canada Centre along with 20,000 incredibly motivated students who came together to celebrate their individual and collective commitment to changing the world. The atmosphere was truly electric and energising and bodes well for the future | truly a gathering place for changing the world.

    For "We Day" - click on photo

    Inspirational addresses were given by many speakers, including 31-year-old Torontonian, Spencer West, who lost his legs when he was five years old - and who earlier this year conquered the summit of Kenya's Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft.) and by Martin Sheen, Al Gore, retired General Romeo Dallaire and Justin Trudeau.

    A long line up of entertainers included Nelly Furtado, Jennifer Hudson, The Tenors, Hedley and Shawn Desman.

    Craig and Marc Kielburger encouraged the participants who had earned their spot at today's We Day through their personal involvement over the past 12 months, to go back to their schools and communities and get further involved in change, adopting Free the Children's new motto "We are the Change."

    April 23, 2012 - attended presentation on OneXOne Aboriginal Youth Education programme with keynote address by National Grand Chief Sean Atleo.

    OneXOne was founded Joelle Berdugo Adler on the principles that every single life is infinitely precious and that each person can make a profound difference in someone else's life, one by one. OneXOne's mission is to improve the lives of children in Canada, the USA and around the world with programs dedicated to five fundamental pillars: water, health, education, play and food. OneXOne has partnered with the Assembley of First Nations (AFN) to support over 3,000 children in 19 communities across Canada providing 500,000 nutritional breakfasts.

    April 15, 2012 - attended the Spring Recital organised by Regent Park School of Music this afternoon at St. Peter's Anglican Church on Carlton Street, Toronto.

    Excellent performances in voice, piano and cello were performed by about twenty-five students from the School during the hour-long recital.

    Music truly is an window into the soul as some of these delightful young performers made their debut at a public forum.

    At the Terence & Svea McKillen Foundation, we believe passionately that music can have a positive influence and enrich the lives of children.

    April 11, 2012 - attended a reception and presentation hosted by BMO Harris Private Banking where Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children was the guest speaker.

    Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in innovative education and development programmes in 45 countries. The primary goals of the organisation are to free children from poverty and exploitation and free children from the notion that they are powerless to affect positive change in the world.

    Marc reviewed the international projects of Free The Children, led by their holistic and sustainable "Adopt A Village" development model which brings schools and school rooms to youth and provides clean water, health care and sanitation while providing alternative income development to local women. Such programmes have reached over one million people around the world, freeing those children and their families from the cycle of poverty.

    The Adopt A Village programme has been implemented in Kenya, Sierra Leone, India, China, Haiti, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

    Free The Children engages children throughout North America by means of its very successful "We Day" programme which culminates year-long programmes within their schools with inspirational and entertaining gatherings at venues across the country. Free The Children directly reaches almost one million young people through social networking.

    February 28, 2012 - attended a luncheon sponsered by MAN Investments, Normative and Bistro 990 where Brian Burke, President & General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs was keynote speaker in support of Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN).

    Brian is a strong supporter of gay rights and attended the 2009 Toronto Gay Pride Parade with his son Brendan Burke, shortly before he died, aged 21, from injuries suffered in a car accident. Brian Burke continues to participate in the annual Toronto Gay Pride Parade and is a stong supporter of CSSN.

    Brian recalled that suicide is the largest killer of Canadian teenagers and has dedicated himself to ensuring that statistics reach zero within ten years. He encourages teens not to stand idly by when confronted with bullying but to intervene if possible, and if not, to report.

    He went on to predict that the current roster of players with the Toronto Maple Leafs will mature into a winning team within a year or two.

    February 16, 2012 - attended the 15th Annual Safe School Conference organised by the Canadian Safe School Network at the International Convention Centre in Mississauga. The McKillen Foundation was a recognised sponsor of the event and we had the honour of introducting the Honorable Laurel Broten, Minister of Education (Ontario) who gave the opening remarks and introduced Keynote Speaker, Margaret Trudeau, the celebrated Canadian and Mental Health Advocate.

    Margaret Trudeau had the distinction at the age of 22 of being the youngest wife of any Prime Minister in Canadian history when she married Pierre Elliot Trudeau. She has led a rich and interesting life, raising five children and extensively traveling throughout Canada and the rest of the world. Mrs. Trudeau has authored three books, including her latest, Changing My Mind, which has topped the best selling charts.

    Margaret discussed with candour and great insight, the bi-polar condition she has struggled with all her life and shared her courageous journey of recovery, acceptance and hope with the wish that others suffering from similar conditions will reach out and get the help they need and deserve.