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Amazon Canada partners with youth empowerment charity TakingITGlobal for a new program that builds technology skills while promoting social justice

Students will remix music from Indigenous artists and enter for the chance to win $5,000 scholarships funded by Amazon Music

Your Voice is Power aims to create opportunities for underserved and underrepresented students: only 1.39% of tech workers in Canada identify as First Nations, Inuit or Métis, according to a Ryerson University Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship Report

TORONTO, Feb. 23, 2022 /CNW/ - Amazon Canada and TakingITGlobal are launching Your Voice is Power, a new 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 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. The initiative aims to reach more than 1,000 students, 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."

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 will 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 will be 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, Amazon Music subscribers in Canada will be 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, 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.

This year's first Your Voice is Power contest deadline is May 31, 2022. Teachers interested in participating can visit www.YourVoiceisPower.ca.

Quotes:

"Your Voice is Power is a unique program, working to close gaps in the digital economy for Indigenous people. Introducing youth to coding through music makes learning fun and accessible. It's also vital that conversations about the true history of Indigenous people in Canada be discussed in classrooms through this program." - Jayli Wolf

"As an activist, entrepreneur, musician and youth mentor, I'm thrilled to share my story and lyrics with youth through the Your Voice is Power program. I've had many opportunities to share my journey with Indigenous students in remote communities through TakingITGlobal's Connected North program, and a program like this one is so timely in ensuring voices and perspectives like mine are heard and reflected on by even more students across Canada. I can't wait to hear what students come up with as they mix their own music and express themselves!" - Dakota Bear

"If our voices are powerful, education is even more powerful." -Samian

"The goal of the UBC Community Health and Wellbeing CIC, powered by AWS, is to work on projects that provide a material benefit to society. Increasing representation of Indigenous students in coding professions is one such benefit, and we look forward to its realization. We've already received inquiries for best practices on how to adapt the curriculum to other indigenous groups in other geographies." - Marianne Schroeder, Director, Cloud Innovation Centre · The University of British Columbia

About Amazon
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth's Best Employer, and Earth's Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon.

SOURCE Amazon Canada

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