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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

A Journey to Hope: From Child Soldier to Activist
A former child soldier, Michel Chikwanine has already endured and overcome unimaginable pain and struggles. His passion and belief in the possibility of change makes him a truly remarkable individual and humanitarian. In this 50 minute uplifting, inspirational, and deeply personal speech that will bring forth laughter and emotions from all audiences, he details his incredible story of being a child soldier, his miraculous escape and subsequent fight to end an issue that has affected his entire life. He details his fight with trauma and how drumming and storytelling have helped him find healing and purpose.

Courage to Overcome Fear
Michel Chikwanine’s childhood was characterized by incredible perseverance and courage. Despite his traumatic childhood, he’s succeeded against all odds. This speech focuses on the story of a young Congolese man guided by family, courage and fierce determination. In his deeply moving and inspirational talk, he will speak about overcoming fear, personal perseverance as important personal pillars, that are key to being successful in any industry. Ideal for groups looking for a mix of inspiration and information, this presentation is also suitable for elementary and middle schools that are interested in speaking about bullying, overcoming fear and succeeding.

Leadership
Having grown up under a dictator who exemplified all the qualities of a terrible leader. In this uplifting, inspirational, and deeply personal presentation, Michel looks at inspiring African leaders that have left positive legacies across the Continent of Africa, the meaning and importance of leadership. Ultimately, he highlights ways we can learn from their qualities in order for us to be more effective leaders – in the world and in the workplace – because the ability to lead isn’t just for special people, but quality all of possess.

Refugee to Author: My Canadian Journey
In 1998, Michel and his family were forced to leave everything they’ve ever had because of his father’s work as a Human rights Activist. In this presentation, he highlights the difficult journey refugees have to make for survival, his journey to Canada where he was accepted and encouraged by a community that embraced and helped him thrive. Ideal for groups looking for a mix of inspiration and information, this presentation is also suitable for elementary and middle schools that are interested in speaking about bullying, overcoming fear and succeeding.

Awards

2007
Mousa Abdel-Hussein Memorial Award

  • It’s been one of the best lectures we’ve had here for quite a while. 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
  • We absolutely loved Michel. He is probably the best speaker I have heard. Students stopped him in the hall to thank him and teachers and staff have thanked me for bringing Michel to our school. It is an amazing life for him to live through. I liked that he talked so highly of his family and that he left students for something to think of as they buy a cell phone or complain about life’s stressors.

    - Listowel District Secondary School

Summary Profile

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 6 million people, his father included.

Forced to leave his home as a refugee at the age of 11, Michel has since travelled to many African countries, witnessing firsthand the problems facing the developing world, but also the beauty of the communities and people who live there.

Today, Michel is United Nations Fellow for People of African Descent, an accomplished motivational speaker and author of a children’s book entitled Child Soldier: How Boys and Girls are used in war. Addressing audiences across North America. He has spoken to over 800,000 people and was also on Oprah’s O Ambassadors Roots of Action speaking tour, which largely reached 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.