For most people, an illustrious legal career—including a 23-year career as a Judge on the Ontario Supreme Court—would be more than enough to feel satisfied with their contributions to others.
The Honourable Colin McKinnon is not most people.
“Mr. McKinnon is renowned for his ability to grasp issues quickly, listen politely, treat counsel and witnesses with respect, focus on the big picture and render judgments in a timely manner. He is regarded as an expert in the law of evidence” according to his peers at Arbitration Place Ottawa.
In 2008, Mr. McKinnon became the Founding Trustee and President of the Africa Reads Trust Charity — an organization created to provide books, computers and access to learning for children in an impoverished part of the Easter Cape Region of South Africa.
We asked Mr. McKinnon to give us a brief history and description of how he started the Africa Reads Trust Charity and the work they have done to date:
“While visiting South Africa in 2008 with my wife Nicole’s sister and my brother in law who lived there, we spent a wonderful few days at Addo Elephant Park, in the Eastern Cape region, and were invited to a “poitjie” (a slow cook stew, over fire in a big steel pot filled with meat and vegetables) at some friends of my in-laws. The party was magical. There I met and befriended our hostess Isabel Goosen who was the Chief Librarian of the Sundays River Library system. The next day we visited all the libraries under her stewardship. I quickly realized they needed significant funding to enable the users to survive and blossom in the modern world. Thus began the ten year saga of the Africa Reads Trust Charity, which I created and fostered, with the help of some wonderful Canadian friends. Over those ten years we collected about $175,000.00 CDN, primarily from judicial colleagues across Canada, which is an enormous sum of money in rural South Africa. Those funds made a critical difference to the libraries in Sundays River Valley, providing safe spaces for children, funding the purchase of books by South African authors in all of that country’s official languages, computers, internet connections and unique opportunities for otherwise impoverished kids living mostly in Townships who lacked any meaningful opportunity to advance in life. Many of those kids have since gone on to university. I can point to no more proud personal achievement, other than contributing to the advancement of my own children’s upbringing.”
Mr. McKinnon’s philanthropic efforts are nothing short of awe-inspiring. His story serves as a reminder to all that one should continuously seek to give back to others—especially those less fortunate.