Revitalisation of Indigenous Languages, Through Mike Parkhill of SayITFirst, Awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)

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Mike Parkhill, founder of SayITFirst, receives the Honour of the Meritorious Service Decoration (Civil Division) from His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. SayITFirst is an organization dedicated to helping First Nation communities and Elders breathe new life into Canada’s Native languages.

Mike Parkhill, founder of SayITFirst, receives the Honour of the Meritorious Service Decoration (Civil Division) from His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. SayITFirst is an organization dedicated to helping First Nation communities and Elders breathe new life into Canada’s Native languages. Mike has shown commitment to supporting minority cultures to take ownership in rebuilding their self identity.

The Meritorious Service Decorations celebrate Canadians who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brings honour to Canada. The Civil Division recognizes remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour. The contributions can be innovative, set an example for others to follow, or improve the quality of life of a community.

In 2009, Mike Parkhill left a senior position at Microsoft Canada to tackle a fundamental social and educational issue: revitalizing dying First Nations languages in Canada. His interest began with a Microsoft project to modernize the Inuktitut language. When Mike learned about his ability to make a difference supporting marginalized sectors, his interest became a full-time passion by founding SayITFirst. Mr. Parkhill was also awarded the Order of Ontario in January of this year in recognition of the work of SayITFirst http://www.sayitfirst.ca.

“I have always supported the underdog throughout my personal and professional lives.” When I became witness to the tenacity of Indigenous people and the challenges they were facing, I needed to stop what I was doing and apply my knowledge to help. Deep down, I had no choice. My friends have taken that help and made it their own."

Mike's work has supported the work of others to change the paradigm of what is possible, using technology to aid a new generation in developing their own self-identity. Studies show that building self-identity at an early age can proactively protect against teenage suicides, truancy, gang activity and substance abuse.

The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, bestowed the honour to the new appointees during an investiture ceremony at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. The event was streamed live online at http://www.gg.ca on July 13 and was also broadcast live on Eastlink TV.

For more information about SayITFirst, contact Mike Parkhill at mikepark(at)sayitfirst(dot)ca and visit http://www.sayitfirst.ca

Photo courtesy: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall

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