We asked our 25 Transformational Canadians to nominate the next generation of leaders. Michel Chikwanine was selected by Free the Children founders Craig and Marc Kielburger.
Michel Chikwanine, Motivational speaker, Toronto
"Michel is a former child soldier. He works with us. He grew up in the Congo - forced to, at the age of five, shoot his best friend, became part of the rebel movement and so forth. He was able to escape, and now he is somebody who speaks regularly for the children, somebody who has travelled and visited schools coast to coast and shared his story, and is somebody who is so deeply committed to social justice.
"He came here as a refugee never seeing snow, lands at Pearson airport in minus 40 degrees - totally in turmoil from what he experienced in the Congo - and has transformed his life to become the most passionate advocate for peace. And it speaks to our ethnic diversity as a country; it speaks to the fact that we're a very compassionate society in bringing in refugees. It also speaks to him as somebody who deeply believes in social justice as part of our Canadian fabric and identity."
- Marc Kielburger