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I am Honoured to be Awarded a Meritorious Service Cross

  • 3 Min Read

The award is one of Canada’s highest civilian decorations, and recognizes the work I’ve been privileged to do to help reach every learner

On July 1, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. And even if you don’t live here, you probably heard about it. The party was unforgettable.

Meritorious Service Cross

But for me – and for my family–there was another reason to celebrate on July 1. I was honoured to be awarded a Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) by Governor General David Johnston. The award is one of Canada’s highest civilian decorations, and recognizes the work I’ve been privileged to do to advance learning across the country and around the world.

Needless to say, I’m pretty proud. And–probably even more needless to say–my parents are even prouder. And while I’d love to take the credit for this achievement, the credit really has to go to two places: to the team at D2L, and to the amazing mentors I’ve had over the years.

First of all–to our team. When I set out to create D2L, I was fixated on answering one key question…

“What is the most important problem, that I could solve, that would have the biggest impact on the world?” Very quickly, that turned into an ambitious mission–shared by each person who comes to work for D2L–which is to do nothing less than transform the way the world learns.

Together, we’ve done that. There are people–all over the world–who have more access to greater opportunity than ever before because of the work of the dedicated engineers, scientists, researchers, service team, salespeople and, above all, dreamers, who work for our company. We have taken our social mission seriously, and we’ve made it integral to who we are as a company.

Thank you, to everyone at D2L for all your hard work and dedication on behalf of learners everywhere. I am aware–every day–that I stand on your shoulders, and that the success of our company is a team effort, all the way.

Second of all–I also owe this honour to my mentors. There are too many to name. My parents–of course–set a great example of service for me at home as teaching professionals and are adored by their students for helping them achieve their full potential in life. There have been a great many inspirational figures in my own education–not the least of whom was our Governor General and former President of the University of Waterloo, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston–who gave me support early on in the creation of D2L, and still inspires me today.

But if I had to pick just one person whose selfless sense of service and whose decency and kindness inspired my own heart for service, it would have to Virginia Gray. Virginia was the former director of the University of Guelph Office of Open Learning and D2L’s first university client. She worked for 38 years and was a pioneer and leader in the area of continuing education and open learning. Sadly, she passed away in 2010.

Virginia had a passion for eliminating barriers and making learning accessible–and a particular passion for helping single moms get the education they needed to provide for their families. In fact, it was Virginia and her team that inspired my first bursary gift. For me, Virginia is a symbol of the difference one person can make–personally and professionally–if you have a heart for service.

Virginia was the first of many passionate, dedicated clients–the folks who take the tools we create at D2L and use them to make a difference in the lives of millions of learners. Collectively, they’ve inspired me to build a growing company capable of delivering an ever-improving product.

So to everyone at D2L–and to all the people who have helped inspire me–thank you.

This honour belongs to you.

All the best from my family to yours,


This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

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