Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Unveil First SayITFirst Book Written in Southern Tutchone Language

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveiled the first SayITFirst children’s book written in the Southern Tutchone language sponsored by Prince’s Charities Canada. The book’s debut held at Macbride Museum marks the continuation of a First Nations Education Initiatives Inc. (FNEII) project supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveiled the first SayITFirst children’s book written in the Southern Tutchone language sponsored by Prince’s Charities Canada. The book’s debut held at Macbride Museum marks the continuation of a First Nations Education Initiatives Inc. (FNEII) project supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Through language, Indigenous Peoples pass the collective wisdom of their Ancestors, healing and laws which govern the ways of being and interacting with nature, time and place. Building a solid self-identity through language allows First Nation communities to proactively strike against teen suicide, gang activity, truancy and substance abuse.

Many Native Languages face the dire situation that they are nearing extinction. The Royal family, starting with Charles, the Prince of Wales, has recognized the need to raise awareness of this most critical situation. The Prince’s Charities Canada has prioritized Indigenous literacy as a key pillar in collectively making Canada a better society. To learn more, visit http://www.princescharities.ca

“We are honoured to engage with Their Royal Highnesses on an issue that is of great importance not only to Indigenous communities but indeed to all Canadians,” said Matthew Rowe, Director of Operations and Partnerships with Prince’s Charities Canada.

SayITFirst was chosen to write the book because of the innovations it has developed to support the transfer of language knowledge between generations. The book and others in the series includes a simplified phonetic system printed beside the Southern Tutchone and English translation so that non native-speaking parents can snuggle with their kids to learn the Native Language, passing on the sounds and sentence structure to youngsters at an age when learning is best anchored. As well, with the download of a free augmented reality app called Aurasma onto a smartphone or tablet, a reading of the book is accompanied by video of Native Speakers to assist the parent with diction. The embedded video, produced by Corporate Films Canada, is a close-up of an Elder’s mouth so the learner can hear, watch and mimic the words being spoken. The e-book is available on the book page of the website at http://www.sayitfirst.ca and on YouTube to allow anyone access to the words and pronunciation without having to purchase the story. The book is freely distributed across the One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC) Indigenous educational and content laptops http://www.olpccanada.com.

“I applaud the Prince’s Charities Canada and the Royal family’s initiative to raise awareness of this most critical issue,” said Mike Parkhill, co-founder of SayITFirst and author of the book. “Of all of the social change they want to drive, they have recognized their role in making Canada more complete.”

SayITFirst is working with First Nations educators on several Native language revitalization projects supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage. SayITFirst has been working closely with educators and Elders enabling the team to develop technology and materials designed to support learning for both Native language and non-Native language speaking children and their families. Since its inception in 2009, the communities using the SayITFirst programs have recorded significant improvements in student engagement, self-identity and parental participation in Native Language development. To learn more, visit http://www.sayitfirst.ca and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SayITFirstInc/

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