Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine has
experienced civil war, political upheaval and poverty, emerging as an
individual wise beyond his years. Forced by these circumstances to leave
his home country at the age of 11 as a refugee, Michel has since
traveled to 35 African countries, witnessing firsthand 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 is an accomplished motivational speaker and the
co-author of Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War. Michel
addresses audiences across North America and has spoken to over 100 000
people. He 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.
By 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.