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Paul Martin speaks at a discussion on sustainability in Toronto on Wednesday November 20, 2013 (Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)

Paul Martin speaks at a discussion on sustainability in Toronto on Wednesday November 20, 2013

(Chris Young For The Globe and Mail)

Former prime ministers to help launch new organization for native issues Add to ...

A wide-ranging group that includes former prime ministers Paul Martin and Joe Clark is launching what it calls “a major new organization” that will focus on aboriginal issues.

A traditional signing ceremony to unveil the initiative is scheduled to take place Thursday morning and a news conference and luncheon in Ottawa will follow.

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Organizers and participants declined Wednesday to provide details about the announcement. The notice to the media listed several high-profile participants, including former auditor-general Sheila Fraser, Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair, former Assembly of First Nations national chief Ovide Mercredi, past president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Mary Simon and former Northwest Territories premier Stephen Kakfwi.

Mr. Martin, who was a Liberal prime minister from December 2003 to February 2006 has maintained a strong interest in aboriginal affairs since leaving politics.

He has launched the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, which offers young aboriginals business apprenticeship programs that qualify for high school credits.

The announcement comes amid renewed attention on aboriginal issues after the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found in the Red River in Winnipeg.

Mr. Clark was a Progressive Conservative prime minister from June, 1979, to March, 1980. He was a cabinet minister in the Brian Mulroney government and returned to Parliament in 2000 to lead the PCs until May 2003.

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