Amazon Canada and TakingITGlobal, a charitable non-governmental organization which focuses on global issues through promotion of awareness and engagement among global youth, have launched the 2023 edition of Your Voice is Power.
Your Voice is Power is a training program and remix competition that teaches coding skills to middle and high school students using music from Indigenous artists. It is expanding in 2023 following its success last year, which engaged over 5,000 students, to include new songs from artists Twin Flames and an enhanced curriculum that uses music and technology to promote social justice.
The Your Voice is Power curriculum is free for teachers and students in grades 7 to 12.
The lesson plans feature eight modules that teach the basics of coding while also exposing student to discussions on the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis experience in Canada, including topics such as Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
Students will remix music from Indigenous artists Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear, Samian, and Twin Flames, using EarSketch, an online code editor available in English, French, Ojibwe, and Inuktitut. All participants will be encouraged to submit their remixes to a competition in which two winners – one Indigenous, one identifying as an ally – will receive C$5,000 scholarships, donated by Amazon. Runners up will receive Amazon gift cards, and one exceptional teacher will be honoured with a C$1,000 award.
A recent report from the Conference Board of Canada estimates that that less than two per cent of people working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are Indigenous. The 2023 edition of this program can help change this by making skills like coding more accessible to communities.
The curriculum was created by TakingITGlobal, with year-long collaborations that involved multiple of hours of consultation and review. The Cloud Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and UBC, helped facilitate connections with Indigenous experts, students and alumni.
“Your Voice is Power surpassed all expectations in 2022, as thousands of teachers and students across Canada showed tremendous enthusiasm for the opportunity to blend a unique technology learning experience with reflection on Indigenous and Canadian histories,” said Anishinaabe educator Christine M’lot, who led curriculum development on behalf of TakingITGlobal.
M’lot adds that this year, the goal of the program is to add new stories and experiences, along with music from First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists, to engage new participants and help previous cohorts builds their skills in technology.
Jayli Wolf, one of the Indigenous artists whose music will be used in the program, says this will help introduce more Indigenous people to STEM fields.
“I am so excited to be a part of Your Voice is Power again this year. It’s vital that we close the gaps in the STEM economy for Indigenous people. The program pushes Indigenous youth forward by focusing on education through the creative process of coding with music.”