5 awesome Canadian dads we love

They're not perfect, and they experience the same conflicts and frustrations that parents know well. But these five dads are committed to being good fathers and good citizens. 

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5 awesome Canadian dads we love

These days it seems culture is hell-bent on portraying dads as either reluctant, absent, not ready or just plain bad. But allow me to present Exhibit A, five men for the defence of the modern father: Men who are not slackers, deadbeats or playboys, but rather men who somehow, on top of earning a living and being involved in their kids' lives, have found ways to give back to society.

They're not perfect (they would be the first to tell you that) and they experience the same conflicts, the same sometimes-not-so-wonderful surprises, setbacks and frustrations that every parent knows well. But they're committed to being good fathers and good citizens – and they cherish the unexpected good parenting moments.

Marc Kielburger

Talk about being a driven dude: Marc Kielburger is the poster boy. He calls himself an "accidental activist," but I don't buy it. You don't go to Harvard then get a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford just like that. You don't stumble into cofounding two global organizations (Free the Children and Me to We), or building more than 650 schools in developing regions or being named one of Canada's Top 40 Leaders Under 40 – before you're even 30!

If you're thinking, Overachieve much? I hear you. Even in the part of his life that is just a minor sidebar to him and is my entire enterprise (advice columnist and author), he has me trumped: He has written six books, and me, only three; he is syndicated and I'm not.

Yet Marc Kielburger is humble and soft-spoken, an obvious all-around nice guy. In a way, you could say his whole life has been devoted to children (he and his brother, Craig, started Free the Children when he was a teen and his brother only 12). But now that he and his wife, Roxanne Joyal, have a one-year-old, his passion has been galvanized even more.

"It certainly has underscored why I do what I do," he says. "It takes on a whole new meaning when someone you're helping is your own daughter's age."

He admits it's hard to juggle being a dad and a globe-trotting do-gooder. He's on the road, en route to Africa and various other far-flung locations 200 days a year (he's been on tour with the Dalai Lama), and feels, well, a little guilty.

Sometimes he tries to assuage it by bringing his kid along on his African sojourns. As any parent knows, plane travel with a toddler can be tough. But, he says, they find ways to pass the time. "We spend 20 minutes playing with the tray table, 20 minutes with the shades, 10 minutes on the headphones." I don't have the heart to point out that I'm no mathematician, but that kills less than an hour on a very long flight. I'm tempted to ask what he does the rest of the time but then realize I don't want to know.

No doubt he uses the time wisely, probably working on his laptop designing a special pump to bring water to drought-ridden areas.

Photography by Seed9

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