Brila is a youth-driven charity that promotes critical thinking, shapes social responsibility and enhances self-efficacy through creative philosophy projects and the production of digital magazines. In a world overflowing with complex issues, we feel it is crucial to provide a space where young people can explore topics that matter to them and express themselves creatively, emerging as capable, considerate thinkers with ideas worth sharing.
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Brila aims to support youth through innovative educational programming that challenges their assumptions so they can better...
... by exploring and analyzing their perspectives in a supportive atmosphere that emphasizes the process not just the results.
... by quenching the pressures associated with creative projects, connecting with their sense of playfulness and quieting their self-censorship.
... by facing the serious, perplexing challenges of their day with strong reasoning skills and genuine empathy.
Brila is a response to the shortage of opportunities for youth to explore life's big questions through creative projects. Since its pilot in 2008, Brila has sought to help young people from preschool through college to connect with their sense of curiosity and wonder using the Philosophy for Children pedagogical model, an internationally recognized, UNESCO-endorsed method for cultivating multidimensional thinking through philosophical inquiry.
Brila was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. Through various philosophical and artistic outlets, I was able to learn to refine my own reasoning skills in order to determine and express the kind of person I want to be. The workshop has changed my outlook on life and instilled new light on my hobby, photography. I truly believe that your organization is unique. I love your approach to philosophy, giving youth the opportunity to explore it through creative projects. I have seen through your zines that youth are gaining incredible amounts of knowledge and skills through your program—myself included. Please keep this up!
We wanted to write to thank you for the opportunity you gave our children to participate in a wonderful experience at Brila. They have benefited so much, and the days went by too quickly! It's really hard to find a day camp like Brila that offers participants highly rewarding activities that give them a real education. You introduce children to a more human type of reflective thinking. By addressing issues relating to freedom, discrimination and animal treatment, you help us as parents to educate better human beings. We also got to observe how you include different learning styles, which makes Brila an unforgettable experience: our children had so much fun doing crafts, photography, cartoons! As new immigrants, it's very important for us to be able to count on charities that allow better integration into Canadian culture. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
—Maria Alejandra & Fernando, parents
I would like to thank you for the tremendous effort that you are exerting in order to make Brila such a wonderful camp for our children and youth. Throughout the week, our daughter shared with us every detail of her days in the camp. Out of such conversations, we could see right away the wonderful environment of Brila camp, whether it's the location, mentors or the program itself. We have also realized that her communication skills have been further enhanced after her Brila camp experience. From a parent's point of view, we can see that Brila is serving our mission in developing our children's creativity and communication skills in addition to opening broad perspectives, and having new friends and new experiences within a very healthy environment.
—Eness & Ahmad, parents
I would like to acknowledge your efforts in letting my child enjoy the camp and have so much fun. It was an amazing week for her. As a parent, I see that Brila is a very good organization with all members being friendly and very cooperative with parents. It was clear they are professional and have hands-on experience with children which made our kids have a lot of fun in a safe environment.
I would like to thank all the Brila staff that gave my daughter & other families the opportunity to participate in this professional, enriching, fulfilling and most of all friendly camp. Thank you for investing your efforts in this wonderful camp that she will never forget.
Thank you Brila team! Our daughter enjoyed the workshop immensely, and has come home everyday with the glow of an independent student. Thank you for this opportunity for our daughter.
—Cherie & Ronnie, parents
Our son enjoyed all the activities particularly the workshops engaging his philosophical and artistic sides. I know the camp allowed him to be expressive, which was good for his confidence. I think your organization's approach to summer activities is unique and fresh, and offers a critical aspect of life learning that is often missing in the conventional school curriculum. I am even more amazed that your organization offers assistance to low-income families. Thank you again for the wonderful experience!
Learning to ask questions and to explore many answers is invaluable. It was good for me as a parent to be reminded to let my daughter figure out what she thinks for herself. I think this organization has a lot to offer and should continue to offer this type of camp experience to children.
I took a look at the zine, and I loved it! It turned out amazing, and wasn't anything like I had expected. I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I was take place in your workshop. Thanks so much for such an awesome week that I'll never forget!
Brila taught me about what I want in my life & what I want out of life.
I loved this experience and will be sad when it's over, but I can take what I've learned into real life.
Brila taught me that I should think for myself.
Brila showed me that I was very restricted in the way I thought, and that there's many things I never wondered about that I now think about a lot.
I learned that I really am a philosopher at heart.
I discovered that I'm a lot more creative than I let myself be. Brila taught me to go crazy and not be afraid to be wrong!
At Brila, we see children and teenagers as original, capable individuals who need specific opportunities in their educational contexts to practice being autonomous in their thinking and their creating. We immerse our participants in a wide range of creative projects as part of our very own philocreation approach to encourage them to figure out for themselves and with each other the kind of world they want to live in and the kind of people they want to be.
Brila means “brilliant” and “bright” in Esperanto, which suits us just fine as we believe shiny, gleaming brains are far better than lacklustre ones! Plus, since we work in multiple languages with many different cultures, from Aboriginal communities to new immigrant families, we like a name that defies boundaries.
what is brila?
Brila is a registered Canadian charity based in Montreal, Quebec, offering youth-driven, bilingual educational programming that fuses philosophical dialogue, creative experimentation and empathy-building.
Brila embodies a by-youth, for-youth model: our work is propelled by our junior volunteers through our mentoring and leadership programs. Sustainability is also a top priority: we ensure our projects are earth-friendly, people-sensitive and gentle on piggy banks.
what is brila's purpose?
Brila is committed to inspiring and educating young people through philosophical and creative projects that foster their…
what makes brila unique?
While many fantastic initiatives support the academic, artistic or psychological development of young people, Brila is the only youth initiative that bridges philosophy and creativity in ways that strengthen reasoning, imagination and empathy. Our projects are aspirational in that they challenge young people to surpass their own expectations, work with special guests who are experts in their field, and share their evolving ideas in their own zines.
We advocate for inquiry-based learning and are endorsed practitioners of the Philosophy for Children model as an affiliate centre of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. With our diversity of projects, we can adapt to any context, from classrooms to community centres to festivals!
who can participate in brila projects?
Any and all young people who have big hearts, bold thoughts and spirited imaginations. Brila is a youth-powered organization so we make sure our projects are relevant and appealing to many age groups, from preschool through college.
Most of our participants fall between the ages of six and 16 but in our humble opinion, curiosity knows no age limit, so if you're up for it, contact us!
where do brila projects take place?
Though Brila operates mostly out of Montreal, with special programs in Ottawa and Toronto, we've also organized projects in other Canadian cities and internationally—wherever curious, caring minds are seeking inspiration!
If you live in a remote location and would like to get involved by hosting us for a program or creating a digital magazine, please contact us to discuss the many ways we can collaborate.
how much do brila projects cost?
As a registered charity, we pride ourselves on our extremely cost-effective programming that is eco-friendly and resource-savvy so access is never a problem.
how can i become a brila volunteer?
Brila is propelled and energized by our volunteers. Through our mentoring programs, we train young adults to become junior facilitators and creative collaborators, with ongoing support from our staff and special guests.
We are always looking for dynamic, driven young adults aged 13 and up to act as role models for our participants. Find out if you're a match in our volunteer section! If you're a parent or educator and want to help, please contact us.
how can i support brila's projects?
Oh, you generous thing, you! If you are willing and able, we'd love your support, whether through a donation of funds, equipment or supplies. Please see our donation section for details.
To get the latest on our projects and zines, you can also subscribe to our mailing list. We're growing quickly and we'd love you to be part of our evolution!
Our motto at Brila: Take your work seriously but not yourself. In other words, keep the kook alive! We see the kook as that creative, quizzical spirit that is inside all of us and needs to be given a chance to play, experiment and try new things without the pressure of being perfect or the fear of making mistakes. So when you're deep in thought or absorbed in a project, remember to let the kooky sparks fly! As Horace famously said: "Mix a little folly in your plans: It is sweet to be silly at the right moment."
We are always looking for experts in creative fields like writing, illustration, photography, music, film, theatre, science, tech and more to help out with our workshops. Infuse kids with your passion!
natalie fletcher, founding director
Natalie founded Brila to help nurture and inspire brilliant young creatures! A giant philosophy nerd, she is currently completing interdisciplinary doctoral research in philosophy, education and digital arts at Concordia University. She teaches Philosophy for Children courses at Université Laval and is a philosophy trainer at SEVE Canada. She is part of the department of humanities at John Abbott College and is an endorsed philosophical practitioner through the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. She is on the executive of the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) and of the American Philosophical Association's Committee on Pre-College Instruction in Philosophy. Her research has been published by Routledge, Rowman & Littlefield, Philosophical Inquiry in Education, Analytic Teaching, Childhood and Philosophy and other academic publications. As a creative consultant, she also works as a writer, researcher and designer on innovative initiatives that cherish child development, environmental conservation and social justice, including projects with the United Nations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Health Canada.
jason taylor, workshop developer
Jason is using his doctorate in philosophy to create exciting thinking experiences for kids, notably as the director of Eurekamp in Edmonton, Alberta. He has nearly 10 years of experience creating programs for youth in both formal and informal learning contexts. In fact, if you count his time as a Scouts leader, he has almost double this! He loves using all manner of games and play—cooperative and competitive sports, board games, wide games, logic puzzles, video games—to prompt thoughtful inquiry around central issues.
Krish edits film creations for fellow art aficionados by night while saving the web from buggy code as a software developer by day. He holds a degree in engineering from the University of Toronto and his coding love has made its way into innovative products such as the Kobo e-Reader and SurfEasy private browser. Always looking to embrace his creative impulses, lately he can be found cranking away on video games at Zynga.
elise newman, workshop developer
Elise recently returned to Canada after a year-long trip around the world and has a worrying amount of bird photos to show for it! With her background in photography and theatre, she has produced all kinds of creative works, including writing and directing her very own plays at numerous festivals. She has masters degrees in theatre directing and in playwriting, but please don't ask her to act! You can check out her photos and writing on her travel and theatre blog.
megan findlay, workshop developer
Megan figured she'd always have to earn the bacon with a dreary "day job" while pursuing her writing on the side. Not so! In 2013 she stumbled into a fantastic job as copywriter for an Ottawa-based advertising agency, and since then she lives creatively 24/7 (proof that you can, too!). Twice shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards (and future winner, she hopes), Megan's fiction currently appears in the literary magazine The New Quarterly. She holds a master's degree in creative writing... and when she's not holding that, she's holding a book!
laia cos, international collaborator
Laia is an enthusiastic learner with insatiable curiosity. She loves to combine philosophy with her multiple creative passions, from music, theatre and fine arts to traveling, education… and even pastry making! Since studying philosophy at Universitat de Barcelona, she completed a masters in education and didactics and is now specializing in Philosophy for Children while doing a masters in philosophy in schools as a member of GrupIREF’s 3/18 program. She loves her current work as a high school philosophy teacher though she would rather get her students to learn by travelling the world with her! Laia is excited to be organizing the first Brila Globo international camp in Barcelona after working at Brila’s summer creativity camps.
felipe arasanz, workshop developer
Felipe is a Chilean-born, Toronto-raised, Montreal-based artist and writer who specializes in the sequential art of comics. He has a fine arts degree from York University where he studied screenwriting and has since worked on several feature-length screenplays and storyboards for various clients in the film and television industry. He works for La Fondation Place Coco, where he teaches music, science and social integration to children with exceptionalities, and produces The Captain Coco Show, a weekly children's theatre teaching the importance of empathy and social skills. When Felipe isn't doing all of these things, he is drawing, doing sketch comedy, playing, boxing, and running a youth comics class on the weekends!
baptiste roucau, curriculum designer
Baptiste is a curious creature who has been working with Brila since the spring of 2016. His interests range far and wide, but what he loves most is to discover, learn and think! So it is not surprising that he has been passionate about Philosophy for Children since the day he started at Brila, first as a special guest then as a youth facilitator, working with community organizations, preschools and Brila’s summer creativity camps. He now also creates curriculum content and programming for Brila, including pedagogical materials geared at educators interested in Brila’s philocreation approach. He has trained with the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children and holds a degree in psychology from Concordia University, where he developed qualitative and quantitative research skills, and studied the engagement of university students with student-centred learning. He is now embarking on a PhD in education to extend his knowledge about P4C, as well as to humbly contribute to the scholarship of the field.
sumaya babamia, international collaborator
Sumaya is a certified speech-language pathologist and audiologist from Johannesburg, South Africa, with over 15 years of experience with young children with exceptionalities. She has also been a faculty member at her alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand. As an enthusiast of Philosophy for Children, Sumaya is keen on offering thinking to youth with intellectual disabilities. She also works closely with children and adolescents from under-resourced educational and linguistic backgrounds. When she is not getting her kook on with Brila, she merrily goes on crazy adventures with her husband and four awesome kids. But she also gets into geek mode as she conferences and writes towards an interdisciplinary doctoral degree at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on philosophical inquiry with children with autism. Sumaya also heads up Jozi4Autism, a non-profit organization in Johannesburg that aims to broaden autism awareness and the scope of services for children and families with autism.
félix morissette, youth facilitator
Whether through art or philosophy, Félix has always loved sparking curiosity and wonder. He has presented mystifying magic shows at dozens of elementary schools, day camps and community centres, and loves swing dance, film and literature. He discovered Philosophy for Children while doing community outreach programs for children from disadvantaged families. It was a relevation: if art could help him raise philosophical questions, then philosophical inquiry could allow him to try to answer them through dialogues with children! Félix is completing the certificate in Philosophy for Children at Université Laval and has trained with the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. He facilitates P4C sessions and assists with training through Brila partnerships with schools, community centres and creative organizations. He would love to explore the positive impacts of P4C through a doctorate in psychology.
jonathan pehleman, neurodiversity specialist
Jon has avidly pursued teaching children with exceptionalities in formal and informal settings for over 15 years, including a special focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder and other forms of neurodiversity. His experience ranges from preschool through high school in public, private, and alternative contexts, as well as beyond the classroom in community centres, charities, camps, parks and private homes. In short, he likes to grab every opportunity to enhance the ability of individuals and groups to acquire and apply socially significant skills in their everyday lives and in novel circumstances! Jon holds bachelor degrees in education and sociology, as well as a masters in education from the University of Ottawa, and is completing a graduate certificate in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from the University of North Texas before passing the board exams to become a certified behaviour analyst (BCBA). Jon’s educational approach is centred on building and strengthening the social bond between mentor and learner—and the environments with which they interact—to help children strive to become who they want to be.
annick davignon, games specialist
Annick uses clowning to spark people's passion for life. Driven by a vital need to change the world by making people laugh, her clown alter ego Bufanda has traveled many countries with her red nose to get a smile out of people, big and small. She loves innovative projects that integrate art, creativity and philosophy. She has completed Philosophy for Children courses at Université Laval and has trained with the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. She has worked with L'AMIE, an international children's aid charity, and currently collaborates with our partner Exeko to promote social inclusion and human connectivity.
anne brel cloutier, logic specialist
Anne is like a little bee who devotes herself to constantly foraging for inspiration in the arts and in philosophy. A graphic design and philosophy graduate, she is currently pursuing a doctorate at UQAM, where she is researching the importance of metacognition in the development of logical reasoning. Since completing her training in Philosophy for Children at Université Laval, she has facilitated philosophical dialogue with young people in various contexts, including Scouts, disadvantaged neighbourhoods and elementary schools. She is currently working on diverse projects with primary teachers as a P4C researcher and trainer with UQAM's department of didactics and UQAC's department of education. She is also an adjunct researcher with the Laboratory of Cognitive Analysis of Information and Philo Youth.
léa cossette brillant, youth facilitator
Léa never misses an opportunity to rack her brains! As a masters student in philosophy at Université de Montréal and a boxing enthusiast, she's either exploring obscure German philosophers or striking fists on her punching bag. Strong and determined, she loves to engage both body and spirit in the ring, at school and in various student associations. For many years she has been a member of CISV, an international organisation that offers young people innovative educational programs to promote citizen empowerment. She has also trained in photography at Dawson College and loves to draw. At Brila she has discovered a wacky atmosphere that marries her love of philosophy with alternative educational approaches. She facilitates P4C sessions and assists with training in a variety of Brila’s projects!
Dr. Joe Oyler
Institute for the Advancement
of Philosophy for Children
Development Manager & Executive
SAPERE & The International Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children
Founder & Executive Director
Sage Youth and The Excellence
in Literacy Foundation charities
Lawyer & Journalist
New York and Ontario Bar
Philosopher of Childhood &
Professor of Educational Foundations
Montclair State University
Philosopher of Education &
Professor of Philosophy
Educational Psychologist &
Professor of Education
Professor of Philosophy &
University of Toronto
Are you a kid at heart? Can you work a crowd? Are you addicted to Photoshop? Is the dictionary your best friend? If so, you may just have the hodgepodge of skills we seek in our Brila volunteers. Our mentorships help students gain valuable experience, bulk up their portfolios and share their creative input, all the while helping our cause by expanding young imaginations! Got what it takes? Apply to join our team!
Educator? Parent? Youth coach?
Learn how you can help out and get involved in our teacher zone.
You're resourceful, unbiased, curious―you love fact-finding, social justice issues and digging up internet gems… and you're a bit of a bookworm.
You're outgoing, energetic, wacky―you love kids, leading group activities and motivating original ideas… and you don't mind a little theatrics.
You're imaginative, efficient, kooky―you love digital layouts, colour and playing with multimedia software… and you have creativity to burn.
You're eloquent, offbeat, meticulous―you love style guides, oddball fiction and proofreading cereal boxes… and you have eyes like a hawk.
Calling all teens aged 13 and up! Learn about our summer junior facilitator training.
Thanks to our bursaries, new immigrant kids have had
their first experience of Canada in one of our programs!
Oh, you generous thing! If you are willing and able, we'd love your support, whether through a donation of funds or equipment:
one-time or monthly donations
Our commitment to creativity ensures we make the most of every penny while our philosophical dispositions commit us to spending all our funds ethically and sustainably! Plus, since we are a registered charity under the Canada Revenue Agency, all donations are tax deductible. Whether it's $15 or $1,000, we are beyond grateful for any donation!
We are happy to provide tax receipts for all donations over $15.
Our charity number is 82689 1251 RR0001.
If you have equipment to spare, we will put it to good use:
Please contact us to coordinate an equipment donation!
project development ($500/$1000)
support a full term or full year of programming!
Help us implement our innovative educational projects! Your gift will fund the development, implementation and assessment of a term-long or year-long youth program, including the creation of materials and activities, the planning and delivery of workshops, and the evaluation strategies that ensure our ongoing impact and improvement.
teen scholarship ($200)
give the mentoring of a lifetime!
Shape a teenager into a community leader! Your gift will fund a leadership workshop and a three-week mentoring experience for a teenager who dreams of working with youth and refining their thinking and creative skills in a supportive learning environment with professional mentors.
camp bursary ($150)
send a needy kid to camp!
Give a child an unforgettable week of creative thinking and doing! Your gift will fund a new immigrant or at-risk youth's first camp experience, exposing them to a host of creative workshops with practicing experts in a fun, nurturing space that cultivates their mind, heart and imagination.
volunteer training ($50)
educate a youth mentor!
Transform a college student into a mentor for kids! Your gift will fund the training of one of our amazing, dedicated volunteers who make our projects possible by working alongside our youth as facilitators and creative collaborators.
project materials ($30)
provide key resources!
Contribute the tools to create and think outside the box! Your gift will fund the eco-friendly supplies necessary to run our programs, equipping our youth participants with the resources to let their imaginative sparks fly and explore new creative forms.
workshop participation ($15)
inspire in an hour!
Get a kid thinking and creating in moments! Your gift will fund a one-hour workshop for a child from an underprivileged background, enabling a unique hands-on experience that will expand the way they think and create.
Donations can also be made by cheque payable to "Brila" and mailed to: PO Box 47535, RPO Plateau Mont-Royal, Montreal, Quebec, H2H 2S8. Thank you!
Click on an icon below to make a secure online donation with the payment platform of your choice:
Or give an amount of your choice:
Click the logo to view the gift catalogue and donation options.
For their amazing support and guidance, we would like to thank our Brila Buddies, the wonderfully generous people and organizations who help us do our work. Special shout-outs to: The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, Sage Youth, Service Canada, 1-800-NEWROOF, Loyola Chapel, Helen Downie, Jonathan Pehleman, Diane Malo, Kat Kavanagh, Natasha Chopra, Ariel Sykes, Myriam Michaud, Jack Zolov, Claire Warmels, Kayla McKelvey, Vanessa Bourgeois, Leesa Santia, Rachel Wallace, Matthieu Clochard, Shanil Patel.
PO Box 47535
RPO Plateau Mont-Royal
Montreal QC H2H 2S8
Brila is a registered charity (#82689 1251 RR0001) and non-for-profit organization under the Canada Revenue Agency. Our organization is nonpartisan and will not advocate any particular religious, political or moral views. The views expressed in Brila's digital magazines are strictly those of our participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organization and our staff. Our online digests are sent through our mailing list only a half dozen times per year—we vow not to clog your inbox. All the photos on this website are of our participants—no stock images here! The contents of this site should not be reproduced, captured or otherwise used without our expressed permission.