National literacy campaign tops $10 million



    WINNIPEG, Oct. 12 /CNW/ - The CanWest Raise-a-Reader initiative continues
to build upon its tremendous success. Today, organizers confirmed this year's
fundraising total of $2.7 million set a record and takes the program to over
$10 million since its national launch in 2002, thanks largely to the totals
brought in on CanWest Raise-a-Reader Day.
    Volunteers across Canada 'hawked' special-edition newspapers in exchange
for donations the morning of October 3rd. Every penny of the money raised from
street sales stays in the community where it was collected, and is distributed
to local literacy organizations to support family literacy and help improve
thousands of lives.
    Local volunteers and citizens weren't the only ones showing support for
literacy; in British Columbia, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the B.C.
government will once again match dollar for dollar the money raised in that
province. This year more than $895,000 was pulled in from Raise-a-Reader
campaigns in seven communities, meaning literacy programs in B.C. will be
receiving a record $1.79 million dollars.
    The national total is still climbing as donations continue to come
through the CanWest Raise-a-Reader Web site (www.raiseareader.com) and the
1-866-637-READ donation line, and is expected to top $3 million by the end of
this year.
    "Canada embraced an early wake-up call for literacy," said Leonard Asper,
President and CEO of CanWest Global Communications Corp. "Whether it be funds
from the CanWest Raise-a-Reader Day events, our new Concert Series - launching
with Michael Bublé's Canadian Tour - or money raised through local book
drives, coin-box collections, etc... this is a campaign that makes a
meaningful difference in advancing our country's literacy levels."
    The strength of the CanWest Raise-a-Reader initiative lies in the
commitment and efforts of dedicated volunteers, sponsors, and beneficiaries,
along with newspaper and television employees. In addition, celebrity hawkers
across the country do their part to raise money. Among them: Norm McFarlane,
Mayor of Saint John; Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island; Clifford
Lee, Mayor of Charlottetown; Windsor Mayor, Eddie Francis; Larry O'Brien,
Mayor of Ottawa; Gail Asper, President of the CanWest Global Foundation;
Winnipeg Blue Bomber Rob Pikula; Patrick LaForge, Edmonton Oilers President
and CEO; forward Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks; B.C. Premier Gordon
Campbell; Shirley Bond, B.C.'s Minister of Education; CanWest President and
CEO Leonard Asper; and Canadian actor Colin Mochrie, the new host of Global
Television's "Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader?".
    CanWest Raise-a-Reader is supported in part by generous donations from
Assante Wealth Management, 7-Eleven stores, Microsoft, Scholastic Books and by
many sponsors in local newspaper markets across the country.
    In the past two years, the number of cities taking part has nearly
doubled with 25 communities across the country now involved: St. John's,
Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Summerside, Halifax, Sydney,
Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina,
Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Penticton, Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria,
Nanaimo and Port Alberni.

    CanWest Global Communications Corp. (TSX: CGS and CGS.A,
www.canwestglobal.com) is an international media company. In addition to
owning the Global Television Network, CanWest is Canada's largest publisher of
English language daily newspapers and owns, operates and/or holds substantial
interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable
channels, web sites and radio stations and networks in Canada, New Zealand,
Australia, Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United
States.





For further information:

For further information: Lynne Munro, CanWest Literacy Initiatives,
lmunro@canwest.com, Tel: (204) 953-7765

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