Former prime minister Paul Martin to unveil aboriginal youth program

OTTAWA – Former prime minister Paul Martin will be in Alberta on Tuesday to unveil a new entrepreneurship program for aboriginal youth.

Martin will be at the Blood Reserve near Calgary along with Chief Charles Weasel Head and Scotiabank president and chief executive Brian Porter to announce the new initiative.

It will provide Grade 11 and 12 students with business knowledge and financial literacy skills. The program will also involve local business leaders mentoring the students.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative, the Blood Tribe and Scotiabank (TSX:BNS). A similar program was launched in The Pas, Man., in 2011.

“The aboriginal population is one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in Canada, yet Statistics Canada is telling you that there is generally lower levels of education within the community,” said Scotiabank spokeswoman Ann DeRabbie.

“One in three haven’t completed high school. An initiative like this, we have great hopes for in terms of encouraging students to stay in school.”

A spokesperson for Martin didn’t immediately reply to a request to interview the former prime minister.

The Blood Tribe also has a connection to the current prime minister, Stephen Harper.

The First Nation made Harper a ceremonial chief in the summer of 2011, making him the third sitting prime minister to be bestowed the honour. Jean Chretien was given the title before becoming prime minister.