NSB Logo Michel Chikwanine Michel Chikwanine

Michel Chikwanine


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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.

Keynote Speeches

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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.

How Resiliency Helps Overcome Adversity

Adversity comes in many distinctive forms and impacts people in various ways. The hardship of one person may be perceived by some as misfortune, while the suffering of others may be viewed by others as misery on an unimaginable scale. Whatever struggles a person has faced, whether it is cancer, or other health problems, addiction, abuse, life changes, the steps needed to overcome hardship include not just understanding how to cope with the remaining pain, but also being able to use the knowledge of that pain and adversity to build a resilient character.

Michel Chikwanine’s childhood was characterized by incredible upheaval and hardship. Despite his traumatic childhood, he’s succeeded against all odds. This speech focuses on how through his community, his family’s courage and fierce determination he was able to build such a resilient character that has catapulted him into such a success story.

In his deeply moving and inspirational talk, he will speak about how each of us at some point in life will face hardship, whether big or small, physical or emotional, and how learning to overcome it and find strength in it can help people gain personal growth.

How Canadian Diversity Helped Me Succeed

On January 21st 2001, Michel and his family arrived in a cold winter in Ottawa. A world so different to the one he had grown up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and his subsequent life in a refugee camp. Hoping for a better life in a country that he had heard was incredibly multicultural, Michel found himself in difficult experiences as his accent and his culture made him stand out in schools and spaces, he had looked forward to being in.

In this speech Michel speaks about how his Canadian community rallied around him to help him overcome racism, discrimination, graduate high school and attend one of the biggest Universities in the world. He highlights why it is essential to embrace what makes us each unique in an ever-shrinking world that now encompasses people from different walks of life. He emphasizes that cultural diversity accepts and values contributions from a wide variety of cultures while actively cultivating welcoming environments. Diversity affords people the chance to learn about other cultures, to appreciate the ways their own cultural ideas affect their beliefs and to minimize discriminatory attitudes

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.


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 a quality all of us 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. He highlights how his life journey inspired him to write his award winning first book, Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War.

Audience reviews:

  • 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

Speaker Biography

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.

He’s worked on various global initiatives with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Martin Sheen and Magic Johnson including being on the Advisory Board of General Romeo Dallaire’s Child Soldier Initiative.

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 find purpose in life.