Amazon Canada has announced it is partnering with youth empowerment charity TakingITGlobal to launch Your Voice is Power, a new school curriculum program and music remix competition that teaches coding skills using music from Indigenous artists.
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, said Amazon Canada.
The Your Voice Is Power coding competition and learning experience challenges students to remix beats while learning to code. Students can also participate in the curriculum and experience how computer science, music, and entrepreneurship can advance equity. No experience is necessary to participate.
For the competition, students use EarSketch, a free online code editor, to compose a unique musical remix using songs from Indigenous artists, including Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear and Samuel Tremblay (Samian), using what they have learned from the provided course outline. Submitted remixes will be judged based on the quality of music, code, and inclusion of social justice themes by a panel of industry professionals. Teachers and students interested in participating can click here.
The competition runs through May 31, 2022. Songs should be between 30 seconds and 3 minutes, including five unique music tracks and one or more sound clips from the highlighted artists above. Two students will win $5,000 to go towards college or to start a business, and one teacher will receive $1,000 for the quality of their instruction.
“If our voices are powerful, education is even more powerful,” said Samian, Canadian rapper who performs in both French and Algonquian.
The newest 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, Your Voice is Power uses music and technology as vehicles to promote social justice.
According to a report from Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, only 1.39 per cent of tech workers in Canada identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis. Amazon Canada says 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. With this initiative, the company says it aims to reach more than 1,000 students from diverse backgrounds, and 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 Susan Ibach, 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.”