What Canada Lost after the closure of WE Charity’s progams

Each story below is a personal story of loss due to the closure of WE Charity in Canada. In all the media coverage, none of these stories were ever reported. It is important for us to share these stories with Canada so people know what was lost.

Penny's story, a teacher

I have never doubted for one minute the integrity of the WE companies, its founders or its employees. We were on a Me to We trip to Kenya in 2014 and saw with our own eyes the work that had been done. We also attended a WE Day and were so impressed by both the speakers and the enthusiasm of all the youth in the crowd. My heart aches for the people, mostly children in many countries who will now not benefit from the work of the WE organization. And for what? It seems mainly political reasons. In the end, the WE company toppled but the Liberal government did not. Nobody gained! What a wonderful idea to distribute these books! It is indeed a very good read. Fingers crossed that the naysayers can learn something. Thank you for not letting this thing go. I hope there is an apology to the Kielburgers in the future. They and their people deserve it!

Gail story, a funder

I have been writing letters to newspapers since this non-story broke and have been outraged and heartbroken by the unfortunate attacks on WE and the reputations of Craig and Marc Kielburger. My sons both went on WE trips to Africa and one of them volunteered and then worked for WE as a result of the impact his trip had on him.  As a result of their experience, I have been a supporter of WE Days in Manitoba and have seen first-hand how the Kielburgers have inspired millions of students to work to improve the world.  I was thrilled when WE Charity was chosen to implement an important program to mobilize unemployed students and was devasted that because of lazy media and political interests, this program did not go forward and tens of thousands of students did not have the opportunity to make a contribution to their communities.Thank you so much for taking this stance in defense of one of Canada’s most effective and respected charities.

Joan's story, a supporter

Thanks for sharing and succinctly explaining the worthiness of the WE Charity.
It’s unfortunate that some politicians have become so petty, partisan and vicious; so eager for power that they have lost sight of their responsibility to the Canadian citizen to represent justice, integrity and truth!!

Elaine's story, a parent

I just want to say that I agree wholeheartedly that the real scandal is the loss of the WE Charity. They have done so much to inspire and empower youth! Marc and Craig Kielburger are champions and it’s a shame that they are being publicly slayed for this without recognition of all the good they have done. Thank-you for funding this independent inquiry and for creating a forum for the public to show their support for WE.

Glen's story, a parent

I have personally known and engaged with WE Charity and the ME to WE social enterprise for over a decade. My wife, Karen, and I have taken our kids to WE leadership camps, We Days, and events in Ontario. I’ve read books written about WE and met incredible people doing volunteer work with the organization, including Craig Kielburger.

My company chose to support WE Charity because we too believe in smart, impactful philanthropy. We have supported WE through donations and fundraising for leadership trips so that our people could contribute first-hand to building schools and hospitals in underserved rural communities in developing countries, and feel that impact. We’ve seen the good work WE Charity does to help lift people overseas out of poverty in places like rural Kenya, Tanzania, India, and Ecuador. I’ve personally benefited from seeing WE Charity’s work in action in two of these communities and it was life-changing, both for me and the people receiving this assistance. The reason WE has become a powerful philanthropic movement is because they discovered a resonant chord with young people and have figured out how to channel that energy into doing good work that benefits the world.

I was very disappointed to see the great work of a charity with a 25-year, remarkably-positive, track record get caught up in a political firestorm during a pandemic and economic crisis. It was shameful to see our government tearing down a charity to score cheap political points. I can see how the facts of the matter got twisted to look a bit off, but that’s only if you want to work hard at creating that perception for political gain. An objective view of the situation, with full context, reveals (per your report) that there were good intentions all around (with acknowledged room for improvement in communication, governance, and consideration for perceptions) and certainly nothing worthy of destroying a charity that channels the efforts of children to help other children.

Wanda's story

My granddaughter's school had pictures and stories. I read about it in newspapers and magazines and admired what WE was doing.  I felt that the campaign was more political and witch hunting than anything serious. I was and am very sorry that WE was so damaged.

Kathy's story

As an open thinking Canadian I'm appalled by the mess politics has made out of a fantastic, humanitarian charity which only tried to elevate the lives of young people around the world. What a tragic story.

Stefanie's story

I have also been disappointed in the loss of the WE Charity, and was encouraged to share my experience.As a 41 year old Ottawaan, I remember when WE was first started by the very young Kielberger brothers, who were so young and passionate and idealistic. Over the years, I was thrilled to see their reach grow, read their articles in the Ottawa citizen, and marvelled at the scale and impact of the large WE events. I saw first hand in my travels across Ontario to highschools, how they really inspired our young people, and young people all over the world (I saw evidence personally in Washington DC). What could be more beautiful and amazing and empowering, not to mention desperately needed today? How it's possible that we can destroy such a noble and beautiful organization because of political finger pointing - this surely is a uniquely Canadian reality: why when we actually manage to scale something amazing, do we feel the need to criticize it to the point of collapse? Thanks for the opportunity to share my support for WE.

Rey's story

I  applaud his continued support of WE while so many others, who ought to have  known better, jumped ship. Millions of young people across Canada who were  associated with WE events more than likely only have positive memories of the  inspiring speakers and socially meaningful projects.

Nancy's story

I don't have a story to share, just my belief that the Prime Minister and thusly our Government acted in good faith regarding WE and it was a huge disservice to everyone involved when it came tumbling down because of political BS. Everyone knows that and now kids are worse off...how is that the 'right' thing to do?

Gordon's story

I believe that politics has almost killed WE. The political stupidity of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister has had a very serious loss of public opinion. The collateral damage to WE is much more serious. A classic case of destroying a non profit for political gain.

Raymond's story

I am a retired teacher who had the opportunity to attend WE Day in Toronto 3 times.Each of these youth empowerment events were inspirational and memorable.20,000 excited pre-teens pumped up with excitement and energy ready to bring back projects to help others in their schools and communities! Quite an impact.

Most memorable times were:
The roars of applause for a 15 year old Justin Bieber I had never heard of.The joyful inspirations from the Dalai Lama.Chris Hadfield sharing ‘how he reached his dream’ with a captivated audience. Thank you to the Kielburgers.

Catherine's story

For years I followed the path of two young boys who desired to help underprivileged children of the world with whom they empathized. Remarkably, they turned their dream into reality, and their quest to help society flourished to include youth everywhere. The ME to WE endeavor was an amazing way to teach empathy and inclusion, as well as giving youth a method to make a difference through volunteerism and engagement with the broader society to learn skills and value others. As a professor, I worked with a colleague who had been involved with WE since teenage years and worked as a youth to better society. While working as a professor, she was offered a job with WE. There was no one more capable to do this, and she accepted the post of working with young people to develop life skills. When the government suggested WE was the right fit to roll out financial aid to students, I knew it was right. However, I have been dismayed at the political rhetoric to bring down a truly beneficial charity for the sake of posturing. There are so many elements to this including what appears to be media bias in sensationalizing “opinion” pieces. I lament that one of our MP’s with the most integrity has been forced to resign. I lament that WE charity and the founders have been subjected to injustices. I lament that going forward, youth here and elsewhere will not have the opportunity to have their voices heard and make a difference. I lament that the government financial aid program was not successful. However, I applaud Stillman Family Foundation for cutting through the “opinion” to get to the facts. Thank you for restoring faith.

Linda's story

I remember when I first encountered the original story in the Wpg Free Press about the 12 year old human rights activist, Craig Kielburger, and, as an educator, I shared his powerful story with my students. Throughout my career, I have continued to share Craig’s vision for knowledgeable, active citizenry.

Through the Me to We program, students learned about the importance of using their knowledge to take action for a better future for those both near and far. At the conclusion of one of the WE events in Wpg, I asked a young student what he thought of the day, and he responded, "These are my people. I don't play on a sports team or sing in a choir, but I love to help people."
I hope WE will be able to continue to inspire students “think like citizens of action, and act like citizens of thought.”

Tom's story

I followed the circus that was the WE scandal and any thinking person should thought it was a travesty.

Assuming the idea of doling out govt funds was a good idea which let’s assume it was, who loses? The kids didn’t get the funding, vast amounts of time and money were spent chasing the “scandal” both in and out of government and basically ruined a great charity and hurt the reputation of two brothers who spent many years building the WE charity. Let’s not ignore the recipients of the charitable work, youth here and abroad.

I have not read one article that criticized the work of the charity. A good charity is in tatters, corporate sponsors ran for the hills, I assume funding dried up and the news cycle moves on.
I took notice of these events and paid attention as it just felt like almost everyone was missing the boat and it was painful to watch it unfold.

Shelagh's story

Like many other Canadians I have been an admirer of, and occasional donor to the WE Charity. I have watched Craig, and then his brother Marc, grow from very young, charity-oriented boys into men of determination, vision and hope for the vulnerable. The WE “scandal”, which I never saw as anything more than a political witch hunt by Conservatives frustrated by their inability to smear the government over its handling of the pandemic, has needed an unbiased champion, and I thank you and your family foundation for coming to their aid.

I truly hope your initiative will lead to the restoration of the Kielburgers’ reputation at home and abroad, and most of all, I hope the WE charity finds its feet again, once again led by the Kielburgers.

Pat's story

As a middle school principal I witnessed first hand how this organization inspired and empowered young people to make a positive difference in their communities – both at home and abroad. WE Charity spoke directly to young people, opening their minds and hearts to the plight of their global community, giving them a platform for their voices and galvanizing them to action. The power of service learning cannot be underestimated and WE Charity was able to manifested the benefits of service learning for young people across the country. There is no question in my mind that what my students learned through working with WE Charity will have a lasting impact and will help positively shape who they will be as adult citizens in our neighbourhoods and in our nation. As a Canadian I am deeply disappointed that the Conservative Party continues to smear the reputation of such a valuable organization in their attempt to gain political traction. In doing so, they are doing a grave disservice to young people across Canada.

Bianca's story

As a teacher, I ran the Me to We club at an elementary school in York Region for 6 1/2 years until Covid forced us to stop meeting. During those years, I worked with many students committed to making a positive difference in their local community as well as for our WE village in Kenya. We organized many fund raising and awareness raising campaigns through the WE Schools program that involved the whole school population. We were fortunate enough to attend three WE Days, which were incredibly inspiring and motivational. Not only did I benefit greatly from my experiences with WE, I believe that the students have been positively impacted to continue their commitments and volunteerism to making the world a better place.

I am grateful for my association with WE Charity. I will continue to support them, and I have every confidence in this wonderful organization.

Rick's story

When the press and opposition parties twisted the entire story around the volunteerism program that WE was to administer, I was actually heartbroken.  WE is an organization that provides jobs and opportunities to people in developing countries and others around the world.

I have travelled to Kenya 7 times with the WE organization between 2007 and 2018.  While teaching in a faculty of education at an Ontario university, I facilitated those trips and had at least 24 students accompany me each year.  These students wanted an opportunity for an international teaching experience and they certainly received that amazing experience.  We had opportunities to teach local children in the Masai Mara area of Kenya, work with community partners, immerse ourselves in their culture and build schools, a health clinic, teacher residences and student residences.  In those 7 years I worked with many employees of WE in Canada and Kenya.  Without a doubt, everyone that I worked with or just met in passing, was positive, professional, organized, thorough, helpful and loving.

Since my last trip, I have thought about future WE trips to Kenya, my favourite place on earth, but, I fear that the opportunity will no longer be available to me.

I am truly sad that the outcome for an amazing organization that was trying to help our youth with volunteer opportunities has been to leave Canada.

This is a tremendous loss for ALL Canadians.

Trish's story

In October 2014, as a staff member of Clayburn Middle School in Abbotsford, BC, I accompanied a bus full of excited students to the WE Day celebration at BC Place. It was a free event earned by the kids for performing good deeds in their school and community.

The venue was full of animated and cheering students from across the region inspired by the performers whose message was a simple one: get involved, do good.

I don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that the day was one that the kids would always remember. For a few it would be a game changer that opened their young eyes to the possibility of making a difference in the world.

I fully support Marc and Craig and We Charity. I believe that they were blindsided by political opportunism. I hope that the organization will survive to continue their work in addressing poverty and making education accessible for kids in third world countries.

Esther's story

I have not attended any WE events, but I am very happy to see that the Stillman Family Foundation took it upon themselves to discover the truth about the charity and to clear up the false information that has been published. I am very happy to read the full page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday, October 31, 2020 giving the details of the real story.

I have followed the careers of Marc and Craig over the years and feel incredibly sad their foundation has been criticized unfairly. I remain a believer in their WE Charity.

Dorothy's story

The dogged and reprehensible campaign waged by the Conservative opposition, which ultimately brought down the WE organization’s programs with the Government of Canada, was in my opinion disgraceful.

Our country’s  young people  were ultimately robbed of the means of participating in imaginative and adventurous experiences so important for personal growth.
Although I have no personal experience with this organization, I simply wished to share my admiration for your work which has served to further my  confidence in WE.

Best of luck  continuing your support of this worthwhile organization!

Roxann's story

I believe most Canadians see WE as just a charity raising money for good causes. Canadians in general believe we need to make sure our charitable dollars are doing the best they can and not being used carelessly.

I have worked for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 1985 to 1987 as Program Director for their facility OUR CABANA in Cuernavaca , Mexico which welcomes groups of usually eighty plus girls and leaders from many countries for short term stays usually of eight days or more. I have noticed the amazing job that WE has done to inspire thousands of young people to believe that they have the power to make a difference. At a time in their lives when many are searching for a meaningful career or just a way to value themselves more WE has helped them to see what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and how they can pitch in to make good things happen. Our world needs people who see beyond their own personal wants. We need people who reach out to the homeless, who try to understand those with mental health issues, and to accommodate those who have major physical disabilities. Cross cultural acceptance is widely taught through Guiding. Like We we address care for animals, understanding that differences don’t need to divide us. We can look after the ecological concerns, our own health and wellness and share what ever we can.

In a one room Grade one to eight school I began my teaching career in 1959-1960. I lived in a teacherage in Bear Creek on Harrison Lake accessible only by air or water. I had a lot to learn. Juggling the different ages, course content for all subjects for all grades was a challenge. But watching their parents I learned good parenting skills and I still have contact with a few of them.
Later I married we had three lovely daughters. When the eldest was seven she joined Brownies and I became a Guide leader. Guiding has been like my religion. In 1976 I applied to go as a leader to Canadian Guiding's upcoming camp in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1977.No luck but they sent out a general request for staff for Handcrafts, post office workers and more. My application to be on the handcraft staff put me in charge of crafts for 2500 in Cape Breton for 7-10 days. From Squamish,BC, I chose my staff by telephone from Toronto, ordered all the supplies and, and—and I learned more about working together, the value of mutual respect and the power of a good example.

I have followed the lives and projects of Marc and Craig Kielberger and been impressed with their ability to inspire others to become the best people they can be. I donate regularly. I believe in them. What can I do to help others be more aware of the loss we will suffer without them?

Nadine's story

I would be remiss by not sharing the story of my son, which could be the stories of many mothers and fathers on behalf of their children.

The difference began in being involved in elementary and high school after school voluntary organizations, affiliated with ME to WE by doing acts of service for their local schools, raising money, collecting food, understanding the plight of others within Canada and abroad by participation in events e.g. the 30-hour hunger famine and for some young people going abroad and seeing the differences.

Here is Edmund's story. Edmund was bullied in elementary school and his joy was being part of Heroes for Change, his elementary after school club.  This involvement built his leadership skills, which resulted in him, even though the club could not collect food one Halloween and while his parents don't celebrate Halloween allowing him to collect food for the hungry.  This resulted in Edmund, during his remainder of elementary school being involved in the annual Halloween food drive.

In Grade 8, he attended a We Day celebration and was impressed to take one of the trips to Nicaragua.  As parents, we were scared, but after attending the meeting, we were impressed to send him.  He worked with the organization, designing and selling T-shirts as part of his fund-raising.

This experience changed him, we said he left as a boy and returned as a young man.  His confidence improved in addition to understanding the privileges he had and awareness of poverty in other countries. Incidentally with his renewed confidence, he was no longer bullied in his public high school, which he insisted on attending, rather than a church school or private school, because of the reputation of the Me to We Club at the high school.

He joined and was an active member of Me to We in all four years of high school, where he attended one additional We Day in high school and volunteered at another one.  He enjoyed reading the Me to We books and meeting Spencer West, who overcame so many challenges.

He has volunteered with other non profits and gives back to the community and is finishing university in 2021.

Thanks again for empowering so many young people who will continue to make a difference for generations to come.

Unfortunately, due to politics, so many other young people may not have these future opportunities, but the seed which has been planted, will grow into a tree and will drop seeds which my hope will be to build other youth into the leaders of today and tomorrow.

Bonnie's story

As a retired teacher/Guidance Counsellor I worked with the organization until 2012...
I found the association beneficial to all involved…

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