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.

 

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 that 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.

 

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!

—Nicholas, participant

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.

—Walaa, parent

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.

—Nancy, parent

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!

—Bayo, parent

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.

—Lisa, parent

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!

—Olivia, participant

Brila taught me about what I want in my life & what I want out of life.

—Dezai, participant

I loved this experience and will be sad when it's over, but I can take what I've learned into real life.

—Samara, participant

Brila taught me that I should think for myself.

—Ian, participant

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.

—Jamie, participant

I learned that I really am a philosopher at heart.

—Areeb, participant

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!

—Shawna, participant

  • 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…

    • critical thinking, or the capacity to form reasonable arguments, and critically analyse and assess diverse sources of knowledge, whether text, images or multimedia content.
    • social responsibility, or awareness and sensitivity regarding their impact on each other's lives as well as a sense of civic engagement rooted in empathy and personal integrity.
    • self-efficacy, or a sense of confidence in their abilities and worth which helps to ensure a positive outlook on the future and resilience in the face of unfamiliar experiences.
  • 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.

    We also keep our costs low thanks to generous donations from our Brila Buddies. Find out about registration fees and bursary opportunities on our camps and workshops pages.

  • 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 and more to help out with our workshops. Infuse kids with your passion!

Dr. Joe Oyler

Philosophical Facilitator

Institute for the Advancement

of Philosophy for Children

 

Lizzy Lewis

Development Manager & Executive

SAPERE & The International Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children

Usha Tamba Dhar

Founder & Executive Director

Sage Youth and The Excellence
in Literacy Foundation charities

 

Jeff Roberts

Lawyer & Journalist

Gigaom Media

New York and Ontario Bar

Dr. David Kennedy

Philosopher of Childhood &

Professor of Educational Foundations

Montclair State University

 

Dr. Michel Sasseville

Philosopher of Education &

Professor of Philosophy

Université Laval

Dr. Holly Recchia

Educational Psychologist &

Professor of Education

Concordia University

 

Dr. Joanna Polley

Professor of Philosophy &

Philosophical Counsellor

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.

researchers

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.

assistant facilitators

You're outgoing, energetic, wacky―you love kids, leading group activities and motivating original ideas… and you don't mind a little theatrics.

graphic designers

You're imaginative, efficient, kooky―you love digital layouts, colour and playing with multimedia software… and you have creativity to burn.

editors

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.

 

equipment donations

If you have equipment to spare, we will put it to good use:

  • technology: digital cameras, laptops, video cameras, speakers, projectors, digital recorders, screens, etc.
  • supplies: art materials, school and office tools, games, puzzles, toys, dress-up costumes, sports gear, etc.

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:

Gift Catalogue

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

info@brila.org

438.338.5956

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.

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