Amazon Canada and TakingITGlobal have launched Your Voice is Power, a school curriculum program and music remix competition that teaches coding skills using music from Indigenous artists. Your Voice is Power leverages music and technology as vehicles to promote social justice while encouraging junior and high school students from diverse backgrounds to discover computer science, one of Canada's fastest-growing academic and career fields.
Your Voice is Power is a flagship initiative of Amazon Future Engineer Canada, a comprehensive program designed to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to pursue computer science. The program is open to schools in all provinces and territories.
"At Amazon, we are committed to empowering children and young adults to learn new skills that will give them more opportunities," said Cynthia Caglar, Head of Amazon Future Engineer Canada. "Your Voice is Power gives students and teachers an introduction to coding while demonstrating how music and computer science can be tools to advance social justice. Our goal is to help more young people, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, develop a passion that can lead to exciting academic and career opportunities over the long term."
The Your Voice is Power curriculum is available at no cost to teachers and students in grades seven through 12. The curriculum was built by TakingITGlobal with extensive year-long collaborations that involved hundreds of hours of consultation and review. The Cloud Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC), which is a private/public collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and UBC, facilitated connections to Indigenous experts, students and alumni, as well as to UBC faculty.
The Your Voice is Power lesson plan features eight modules that teach the basics of coding while engaging students in discussions on the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis experience in Canada, including topics like Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action. Students remix music from Indigenous artists Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear, and Samian using EarSketch, a free online code editor that will be available in English, French, Ojibwe, and Inuktitut. All participants are encouraged to submit their remixes to a competition in which two winners, one Indigenous, one identifying as an ally, will receive $5,000 (CAD) scholarships, donated by Amazon Music.
"The Your Voice is Power curriculum development team was excited to collaborate on a learning experience that will inspire students to reflect on, and respond to, Indigenous and Canadian histories," said Anishinaabe educator Christine M'lot, who led curriculum development on behalf of TakingITGlobal. "We've brought together the powerful music of First Nations artists while giving an opportunity to thousands of students to build their coding skills as they challenge themselves to submit their own original beats. We can't wait to hear what they create!"
Amazon Music Launches New 'Your Voice is Power' Playlist
Starting February 22, 2022, Amazon Music subscribers in Canada are able to stream an exclusive new Your Voice is Power playlist featuring songs by artists including Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear, Samian, and many others featured in the program. This playlist features music celebrating themes of perseverance and determination, showcasing foundational moments spanning 30+ years of music making.
Report shows that only 1.39% of the Canadian tech workforce is Indigenous
A report from Ryerson University's Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, shows that only 1.39% of Canada's technology workforce identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis. Programs like Your Voice is Power can help close this gap by engaging Indigenous students in the early stages of their education. Studies have shown inspiring young children in STEM and computer science motivates them to stay interested long-term—through high school, postsecondary studies, and beyond.
Students and teachers interested in participating can visit www.YourVoiceisPower.ca.