TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/12/13 -- Today, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students kicked-off the third Annual We Stand Together campaign with a celebration of Aboriginal history, culture and tradition featuring The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Olympian and Aboriginal rights activist Waneek Horn-Miller, and Founder of Free The Children Craig Kielburger.
"There is a clear gap between what many non-Aboriginal Canadians understand about the issues and circumstances faced by Aboriginal people," said The Right Honourable Paul Martin, founder, MAEI. "We Stand Together is a grassroots initiative that starts right inside the classroom to teach young Canadians the significance of Aboriginal history, helping to close this gap, foster understanding and raise awareness of Aboriginal culture and history in Canada for generations to come."
For 10 days (February 25 - March 8, 2013), in partnership with the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI), We Stand Together(i) will see students, educators and parents across the country learn about the challenges, achievements and contributions of Aboriginal Canadians.
Teachers will leverage resources, lesson plans, and daily facts to educate their students about Aboriginal history, culture and traditions, as well as the challenges and opportunities present in Aboriginal education today. The goal is to create a dialogue for students to share with family and friends, sparking greater awareness of Canadian history. Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller is also participating on a cross-Canada speaking tour, visiting schools and sharing her story with thousands of students about what it's like growing up as an Aboriginal Canadian and some of the challenges she has faced and overcome.
"Since 2009, We Stand Together has been embraced by hundreds of schools across the country," said Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger. "Ninety percent of these educators reported increased awareness of Aboriginal issues among students participating, and 78 percent felt better equipped to teach their students about Aboriginal issues. We Stand Together encourages students, teacher and parents to include Aboriginal issues in their everyday discussions, helping to create change in our community."
In August 2012, Free The Children polled 2,400 parents and their children to learn about philanthropic perceptions. When asked which local issue they were most passionate about, Aboriginal issues were ranked the lowest amongst youth and their parents (with only one percent feeling passionate about this issue). What's more, less than half (45 percent and 48 percent) of youth and parents polled respectively felt they had a strong understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal Canadian.
Through this campaign, Free The Children hopes to bring these issues into the national discourse and engage Canadians to celebrate Aboriginal achievements. For more information, visit www.freethechildren.com/westandtogether.
About Free The Children
Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner. Founded in 1995 by international activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children believes in a world where young people are free to achieve their fullest potential, and empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens. The organization's domestic programs - which includes We Day, Free The Children's signature youth empowerment event - educate, engage and empower 1.7 million young people across North America, the UK and around the world to become engaged global citizens. Its international projects have brought more than 650 schools and school rooms to youth and provided clean water and sanitation, health care and food security to one million people around the world, freeing children and their families from the cycle of poverty.
(i) We Stand Together was formerly known as Local Spotlight: Aboriginal Education
The organization has received the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, the Human 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, visit www.freethechildren.com.
About Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative
The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) was established in 2008 in order to initiate a variety of educational projects designed to provide Aboriginal Canadians with the opportunities they need to succeed. MAEI brings together Aboriginal organizations, the business community, post-secondary institutions, First Nation schools and provincially and territorially-funded school boards to implement programs to support Aboriginal students. Our goal is to implement initiatives that improve education at the elementary and secondary school levels for Aboriginal Canadians.
MAEI believes that the development of knowledge and skills will provide Aboriginal youth with an incentive to continue their education. Projects are chosen in discussion with the pertinent Aboriginal leadership, provincial and territorial education authorities, and local business communities. For more information, visit www.maei-ieam.ca.
Free The Children
Director, PR & Publicity
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