When human-rights advocate Craig Kielburger found out he was going to receive a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, he believed there had been a huge mistake.
But it was no error. On Tuesday, Kielburger and his brother Marc joined legendary runner and cancer activist Terry Fox, music producer Bob Ezrin, actor Victor Garber, pianist Oscar Peterson, actor Alan Thicke and soccer hero Christine Sinclair as the latest inductees to the Walk of Fame.
“Part of what I think makes us Canadian is our compassion,” said Kielburger, 30. “Celebrating that at the highest level is a wonderful ideal, because it shows young Canadians that that is quintessentially Canadian.
“And as kids, we would listen to Oscar Peterson’s music and be enamoured with it ... and Bob Ezrin? Oh my God!” he said. “So to be among these individuals — it’s incredibly humbling.”
The Kielburger brothers are among the youngest living Canadians to be inducted into the Walk of Fame, recognized in part for their work founding Free the Children and We Day, a cross-country festival that aims to inspire global change among youths.
“So much of our work is trying to get young people to follow their passions,” said Kielburger. “To be celebrated at a young age for the work that we do, I hope that it sends a symbol to other people not to wait.”
Dan McGrath, chair of Canada’s Walk of Fame’s board of directors, takes great pleasure in the range of people the Walk recognizes.
“We’ve got a great balance of Canadians from many disciplines. We don’t just focus on just music, or just the arts, and it’s really people who have made a difference in Canada,” he said.
Typically, the Canadian Walk of Fame honours one posthumous inductee with the Cineplex Legends award, but this year two are being welcomed: Fox and Peterson.
“We decided to have two this year because we wanted to have a special recognition of Terry Fox as part of our 15-year anniversary,” said McGrath.
“Terry is just an incredible, incredible individual who inspired the entire country.”
With the introduction of smartphone voting, McGrath said participation for this year’s slate spiked, with nearly 30,000 Canadians from 130 countries submitting a nomination.
Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen of Mission, B.C., was announced as the fourth winner of the Allan Slaight Award, which recognizes young and inspirational Canadians. Past recipients include the rapper Drake and jazz-pop singer Nikki Yanofsky. Jepsen will be performing at the award ceremony on Sept. 21 at the Elgin Theatre.
This year also marked the first year the Walk of Fame has awarded the $25,000 RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Prize, which gives up-and-coming musicians an opportunity to learn from established Canadian talent. Last week, Taylor Kurta, a 20-year-old self-taught guitarist and singer from Thornhill, Ont., won the cash prize and the chance to be mentored by Gord Sinclair of the Tragically Hip.
The names of this year’s Walk of Fame inductees will be engraved on stars and displayed with those bearing the names of previous winners along King Street West and Simcoe Street in Toronto.
Past inductees include rocker Bryan Adams, TV host Alex Trebek, comedian Phil Hartman and hockey great Bobby Orr.
The show will be broadcast nationally on Global Television and Slice this fall.