TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2024 - Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon Music and TakingITGlobal are proud to launch the 2024 edition of Your Voice is Power, an educational program and remix competition that teaches computer science and coding skills to middle and high school students using music from Indigenous artists. After reaching more than 15,000 students in 2023, Your Voice is Power has raised the target to more than 20,000 in 2024, as part of its mission to inspire and prepare young people for the careers of the future.

Students participate in coding workshop at Your Voice is Power launch event

Your Voice is Power is a flagship initiative of Amazon Future Engineer Canada, a computer science and STEM education program that seeks to afford all young people the opportunity to realize their potential. A June 2023 report from The Dais, a public policy and leadership institute at Toronto Metropolitan University, shows that, according to Statistics Canada, Indigenous Peoples in Canada engage in tech-related employment and industry at only half the rate of people from non-Indigenous communities. By sparking an early interest in STEM education, programs like Your Voice is Power can help students from underrepresented communities build the digital literacy and skills that can lead to transformative technology careers.

"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. "There is a strong demand for computer science-related careers, but we know that many Canadians – especially those from underserved backgrounds – risk being left behind. 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, which can help them identify future academic and career possibilities."

"We're proud to continue our work with Your Voice Is Power for a third consecutive year, and use music to create and encourage conversation and connection around the Indigenous experience in Canada," said John Murphy, Head of Music, Canada, Amazon Music. "We're very grateful for the engagement and participation of artists, teachers, and students in the program, and we can't wait to hear the new remixes submitted this year."

The Your Voice is Power curriculum is available at no cost to teachers and students in grades 7 through 12. The curriculum was built by TakingITGlobal with extensive year-long collaborations with the Cloud Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC) that involved hundreds of hours of consultation and review. The UBC CIC, 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.

"Your Voice is Power makes it possible for more diverse voices to resonate in a field that is helping shape Canada's future, but doesn't currently reflect our society. The program helps young people engage with technology in a way that puts their stories at the forefront and empowers them to apply new skills to share their own unique perspectives on the Indigenous experience," said Anishinaabe educator Christine M'lot, who led curriculum development on behalf of TakingITGlobal.

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 can remix music from Indigenous artists such as Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear, Samian, and Twin Flames using EarSketch, a free online code editor 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.

The deadline to submit entries to the 2024 student competition is May 31, 2024, and the winners will be selected in June.

New for 2024, Juno Award-nominated artist Aysanabee will provide music for the Your Voice is Power curriculum, and will also join the student competition judging panel. Aysanabee is an Oji-Cree singer-songwriter who has received three 2024 Juno Award nominations for his album Here and Now, in the categories of Contemporary Indigenous Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Alternative Album of the Year.

Amazon Music 'Your Voice is Power' Playlist

Amazon Music subscribers in Canada are able to stream an exclusive Your Voice is Power playlist featuring songs by artists including Twin Flames, 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 in music spanning 30+ years of music making.

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