The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and Free The Children Announce the Local Spotlight campaign focusing on Aboriginal Education

TORONTO, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - On behalf of The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and Free The Children, the Right Honourable Paul Martin and Craig and Marc Kielburger today announced the launch of a program to engage students to learn about and engage in meaningful dialogue in support of their First Nations, Métis Nation and Inuit peers. The 2011 campaign will shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by Aboriginal youth in gaining access to quality education and encourage students across Canada to help raise awareness around these issues.

"I am pleased to see this campaign move ahead and help bring awareness of the situation of Aboriginal Canadians among the young leaders of tomorrow," said Mr. Martin. "Too many Aboriginal students are denied access to the kind of education that can prepare them for a productive and healthy future. In partnering with Free The Children, we can promote efforts to expand opportunities for the next generation of Aboriginal leaders."

"It's really important for Canadian youth to start a dialogue and raise awareness around Aboriginal issues," said Craig Kielburger, founder, Free The Children. "Our Local Spotlight campaign allows us to work with students from across the country and through social media outlets giving them a greater understanding of Canada's Aboriginal communities."

"Aboriginal Canadians are the youngest and fastest growing segment of our population.  We need to work together to ensure they have equal opportunities as others to fulfill their dreams," said Marc Kielburger, co-founder, Free The Children. "Students will be encouraged to promote understanding of these issues by raising awareness through their schools and communities."

With the support of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, Free The Children will work with youth and teachers as part of its 2011 Local Spotlight Campaign, an annual effort, which this year is scheduled for February 14 to 25. Participating students and schools will receive an awareness action guide along with compelling statistics or quotes each day about the experiences and cultures of Aboriginal youth.  Students will be called to take action by sharing their ideas about what they learn through their schools and networks.

Social networks, including Free The Children's Facebook page, will raise awareness beyond participating schools. Students at We Day Waterloo Region on February 17 will also be engaged on these issues as part of a program of speakers, presentations and performances that put a spotlight on the need for global and local action.

For more information about the Local Spotlight program, please visit www.freethechildren.com and www.facebook.com/freethechildren

For more information about We Day Waterloo Region, visit www.weday.com.

For more information about the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, please visit www.maei-ieam.ca.

About the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative:
The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) is a charitable  organization that supports education for Aboriginal students across Canada. MAEI's guiding vision is to empower Aboriginal students with the knowledge and confidence they need to complete secondary school and go on to post-secondary studies. MAEI has initiated various educational projects designed to provide Aboriginal Canadians with the opportunities they need to succeed. MAEI brings together Aboriginal organizations, accounting professionals, the business community, post-secondary institutions, First Nation schools and provincially-funded school boards to implement programs to support Aboriginal students.

About Free The Children:
Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international child rights activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children has a proven track record of success. Through the energy and passion of youth, Free The Children has built more than 650 schools and school rooms around the world, providing education to over 55,000 children every day. The organization has received the Rights Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnerships with leading school boards and Oprah's Angel Network. For more information please visit www.freethechildren.com.


SOURCE Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative

For further information:

Media Contacts:

Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative
Contact: Lucie Santoro
(514) 758-9978

Free The Children
Contact: Lindsey Coulter
(647) 259-3469

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