There’s a new award being given for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations, and this year the first-ever honor goes to former Prime Minister Paul Martin, known for his foundation, the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative.
The award was created to recognize “a Canadian who has personally contributed, through his or her professional and voluntary commitments, to building bridges between Aboriginal people and Canada’s business community,” said the creators of the award, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Sodexo Canada, a quality-of-life consulting firm that has been working with aboriginal youth through its charitable Sodexo Foundation since 2001, in a statement.
Martin’s Aboriginal Education Initiative is an effort to reduce the youth dropout rate and increase college attendance. He also, with his son David, founded the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (CAPE) Fund. The fund makes investments seeking to foster economic independence and sustainability among aboriginal peoples on and off reserve.
“I am honoured to be selected as the first recipient of the Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations,” said Martin in the joint statement.
“The efforts of Paul Martin have led to real change in how business is done in Canada,” said CCAB President and CEO Clint Davis. “Mr. Martin has long recognized the potential of greater participation of the Aboriginal community in the mainstream Canadian economy.”
Martin deems such collaborative efforts to be common sense.
“It is critically important that we work together, all Canadians, to eliminate the gaps that exist between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in health, education, housing, economic development, indeed across the board,” he said. “Clearly this is a moral issue, but it is also an economic issue. The discrimination with public spending against the youngest and fastest growing segment of Canada’s population makes no sense.”