Keynote Speakers

Lieutenant-General, the Honourable Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d)

Canadian Humanitarian

A passionate and moving speaker, Dallaire inspires audiences to challenge the status quo and take action in shaping a new future. His candid presentations weave together complex ideas in a way that is fully accessible. A kind, thoughtful and generous man, Dallaire has the unique ability to make each audience member take pride in the leadership they show in what they do. He is able to take a positive approach on seemingly difficult subject matter by focusing on the solutions, rather than the problems. Dallaire’s words will echo in the hearts and minds of audiences long after an event concludes.

His humanitarian commitment, honesty, and integrity have made a lasting imprint around the world. A decorated Lieutenant General and former Canadian Senator, Dallaire served 35 years with the Canadian Armed Forces, was Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda, is the bestselling author of three books, and leads the Child Soldiers Initiative.

His courage and leadership during the Rwandan mission earned him the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit, the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention, and the affection and admiration of people around the globe.  His defiant dedication to humanity as General has been well-documented in films and books, including his own account: Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.  It provided the basis for an Emmy Award-winning documentary as well as a major motion picture of the same name; and, has been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

Dallaire works tirelessly in shaping the dialogue within public discourse to create a momentum towards tangible solutions on important issues of our time including: mental health & PTSD, conflict resolution, veteran’s affairs, eradicating the use of child soldiers, genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention. His 2016 bestselling book Waiting for First Light offers a no-holds-barred self-portrait of the man and his ongoing battle with PTSD. The candid commentary reflects on what it’s like to live with the illness while motivating himself and others via humanitarian work.

Since the publication of his 2nd bestselling book (and subsequent documentary) They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers in 2010, General Dallaire’s primary focus has been his work with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, continually seeking innovative ways to assist militaries worldwide to help eradicate the use of child soldiers, a mission to which he has committed the rest of his life.

Throughout his distinguished military career, General Dallaire served in staff, training, and command positions through North America, Europe, and Africa.  Most notably, General Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide.  General Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days; yet, permission to intervene was denied and the UN withdrew its peacekeeping forces.  LGen Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces.

General Dallaire has served on UN Advisory Committees on Genocide Prevention and Peacekeeping Training, and as Special Adviser to Government Ministers on Veterans Affairs, National Defense, and War Affected Children.  From 2005 to 2014, he also served as a Canadian Senator.

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