A group of Indigenous artists is helping children learn to code through a school music program aimed at improving Indigenous representation in Canada’s tech workforce.
The new program, titled “Your Voice is Power,” teaches students to code as they remix songs by Indigenous artists.
Using EarSketch coding software created by Georgia Tech University, the platform allows students to turn code into music with beats and loops provided by artists.
Indigenous singer-songwriter Jayli Wolf told CTV National News she sees huge potential in the project.
“I think art is such a great conversation starter and with music, every song is a story,” she said.
Wolf is known for using her music as a platform for social justice and racial equality, two themes that are also part of the program’s learning agenda.
The “Your Voice is Power” program uses eight learning modules to teach the basics of coding, while engaging students in discussions about First Nations, Inuit and Métis experiences.
“I think it’s so wonderful that they bring music into the classroom where we can have these really important conversations,” Wolf said.
Christine M’Lot, a program developer specializing in Indigenous education, told CTV National News that the program aims to promote equality by making coding more accessible.
According to a 2016 study by Ryerson University’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, approximately 2% of those employed in Canada’s tech sector identify as Indigenous.
“It’s a real goal, to inspire young indigenous people to pursue careers in technology,” said M’Lot.
The program, which launched last week, is available in all provinces and territories, including some of Canada’s most remote communities that have recently gained access to high-speed Internet service. The learning modules are available in English, French, Cree, Ojibwe and Inuktitut.
About a thousand students in grades 7 to 12 are expected to participate in the initiative. Additionally, Amazon Music will award two scholarships worth $5,000 each for the best coded music remixes submitted.