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Michel Chikwanine

Peace Advocate & Former Child Soldier

A former child soldier, Michel Chikwanine has already endured and overcome unimaginable pain and struggles. His passion and belief in the possibility for change makes him a truly remarkable individual and humanitarian.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presentations

From Child Soldier to Child Activist: The Journey of Hope
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel grew up amid the terror of the Great War of Africa. He witnessed the torture of his father, who was singled out for his political beliefs, the rape of his mother and endured torture of his own. Much of Michel’s childhood was ravaged by the death and decay of a war that claimed the lives of 3.8 million people, his father included. Sharing his personal story Michel leaves audiences with a new perspective on life, a sense of hope through social responsibility and a desire for change.

Awards

2007
Mousa Abdel-Hussein Memorial Award

  • It’s been one of the best lectures we’ve had here for quite awhile. Michel’s message was great, as I knew it would be having heard part of it at NACA central in October. All of the feedback I’ve heard so far has been positive, people liked hearing what he had to say. Working with Michel was certainly enjoyable for me.

    - Missouri State University Student Activities Council
  • It was fantastic! Michel was incredible—of course—and all the feedback I’ve received from staff and students alike has been highly complementary. What a fantastic day, thank you so much for your help! I think Michel made about 1,000 new friends today!”

    - Cawthra Park Secondary School
  • Your speech has reinforced in me a strong will to do what’s right, to pursue greatness and to inspire others to care for one another. Your contribution to the human race will undoubtedly reign forever.

    - English Teacher, Moreno Valley, CA

Summary Profile

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine has experienced civil war, political upheaval and poverty, emerging as an individual wise beyond his 27 years of age. Forced by these circumstances to leave his home country at the age of 11 as a refugee, Chikwanine has since traveled to 35 African countries, witnessing first-hand the problems faced by the developing world, but also the beauty of the communities and people who live there. Much of his childhood was ravaged by the death and decay of a war that claimed the lives of 5.8 million people, his father included, and forced him to be a child soldier.

Michel now inspires people to believe in their ability to make a difference and leaves audiences with a new perspective on life, a sense of hope through social responsibility, and a desire for change. Today Michel’s an accomplished motivational speaker and author of Child Soldier: How Boys and Girls Are Used In War. Michel addresses audiences across North America.

He has spoken to over 100,000 people and has shared the stage with such distinguished speakers as Free The Children founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, Dr. Jane Goodall, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, former U.S Vice-President Al Gore, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams, actress Mia Farrow and musician K’naan, just to name a few. He was also a speaker on Oprah’s “O Ambassadors Roots of Action” speaking tour, largely reaching students at resource-poor schools. Sharing his personal story, Michel has captured the attention of national media, including CBC, CTV and major daily newspapers as he inspires people to believe in their ability to create change.