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Fifty Millennium Kids En Route and Disappointed They'll Miss Their #MDGPetition Presentation in the House of Commons Today

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/03/14 -- Fifty Millennium Kids are heading to the House of Commons in Ottawa June 3, 2014 to urge their government to fulfill our Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) commitment by 2015 and allocate 0.7% of Canada's Gross National Product to Official Development Assistance, as promised. Mr. Dean Allison, MP and Chair of the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs is presenting their MDG petition in the House. Students have been mailing and hand-delivering their MDG petitions to their local MPs in many Canadian cities.

However, due to an extremely unfortunate error in Minister Paradis' office regarding the time for petition presentations on Tuesdays, fifty students from the Toronto and Niagara areas will still be travelling to Ottawa at the time of the presentation that has been in the works since February. Millennium Kids were told by the minister's office that yesterday's efforts to allow the petition to be presented at the end of Question Period did not receive unanimous consent from the House Leaders. Instead, Mr. Dean Allison, MP will acknowledge the Millennium Kids' petition, their efforts and the importance of the MDGs in a Member's Statement at the beginning of Question Period; but the students will miss the actual presentation of their signed petition.

"About six months ago, I awoke suddenly at 6 am on a Monday morning with the strongest impression that I should google the minimum age requirement for signing a Canadian petition, only to discover there is no minimum age," recalls Millennium Kids founder and lawyer, Sara Hildebrand; "they may not be old enough to vote; but with a minimum of 25 signatures their voices can be heard in the House of Commons."

Students plan to meet for Q&As with the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Ms. Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and Ms. Helene Laverdiere, Official Opposition Critic for International Development and Deputy Critic for Foreign Affairs.

"I always appreciate seeing Canadians take an interest in helping to improve the lives of others," said Minister Paradis. "And it's especially heartening to see young people taking action."

Sarah Slywka, a teacher at Balgonie Elementary School, Saskatchewan wrote: "For the past couple years, I've taught my Grade 5 class a mini-unit on the MDGs. As the Student Leadership Committee (Grades 6-8) collected 75 signatures....it's been really cool for many of my students to connect back to that assignment and see the relevance. We'll be watching June 3!" However, due to the unfortunate error many classrooms, including Ms. Slywka's, will not be able to live-stream the petition presentation of their signatures because of the time change in western Canada. The petition presentation will now live-stream at 10 am EDT and the Member's Statement at 2 pm at www.cpac.ca.

Social media has added another dimension to 21st century youth civic engagement. The Millennium Kids twitter account chronicles many of the signatures as they are collected and hand-delivered or mailed to MPs. Tweets bring together Canadian schools or faith communities and their local MPs to increase momentum for June 3. Mentioned in one and the same tweet, many students, teachers and MPs have re-tweeted news of signatures gathered in their own ridings.

Nevertheless, social media has not prevented students from engaging with their MPs face-to face. One Millennium Kid, Ephraim, was walking to the office of his MP Mr. Andrew Cash when he ran into Mr. Cash on his bike, at a busy Toronto intersection. Mr. Cash stopped, kindly thanked the student for the petition and promised to add it to the stack of MDG petitions already in his bag on route to Ottawa.

This petition comes at a time of renewed MDG momentum in Canada. The petition presentation falls between Prime Minister Harper's recent announcement of $3.5 billion over five years toward maternal and child health at the Saving Every Mother, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach Summit, and the June 4-5 G7 Summit in Brussels where the Prime Minister is expected to further champion MDGs 4 & 5.

The key question: will Millennium Kids help to galvanize the passion and commitment of Canadians to increase our ODA from 0.3% of GNP to the promised 0.7% that is so needed by the world's poorest? "I am coming to Ottawa on June 3rd to show that Canadian youth and children care about the development of living standards and access to social services worldwide," says Aaron, a World Vision Youth Ambassador and student from Mississauga, ON.

Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi encouraged 70 children and youth to participate in the MDG petition initiative during a Millennium Kids' workshop at Sayeda Khadija Centre, Mississauga; "keeping our MDG promise is as important as being Canadian. These are noble goals and need to be met."

For thousands of Canadian students, their signatures will be their voice for the MDGs this spring in Parliament. However, not every student who wanted to sign the petition was able to write her first and last name in cursive script. Several students printed their names in hopes their voice would still be counted.

"When I got the Millennium Kids' email I checked it out but deleted it, because literacy is very low in our community and a petition requires a signature. That is a skill taught to children of privilege. But in saying that, though we can't do everything to keep Canada's MDG promise, we can do something. We'll do our part and make sure Honourable Keith Ashfield receives our petition," wrote Rev. Phil Styles, United Baptist Church of Minto, New Brunswick.

The standing orders for petitions require the federal government provide a written response within 45 days. So the final word on the Millennium Kids' MDG petition has yet to be written.

Generous sponsors include: Keep The Promise, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Faith of Life Network and supporters of our Indiegogo campaign.

Location:    House of Commons, Ottawa

Date:        Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Time:        10 am #MDGPetition presentation
             2 pm Member's Statement referencing #MDGPetition

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