Mayor Laura Cabott chats with students during the coding event in Whitehose on March 28. (Courtesy/Your Voice is Power) Mayor Laura Cabott attended the Your Voice is Power event with students in Whitehorse (Courtesy/Your Voice is Power)
About 80 students from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School in Whitehorse participated at a live hackathon event as part of the 2023 Your Voice is Power, an educational program and remix competition that teaches coding skills to high school students using music from Indigenous artists.
The hackathon, held on March 28, was organized by Amazon Canada and TakingITGlobal, teaching the basics of computer science and coding while also engaging participants in discussions on the First Nations, Inuit and Métis experiences in Canada.
At the event, the students were joined Indigenous music artists Dakota Bear, Jayli Wolf and Samian.
Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott visited to take in the activities.
The students learned how to remix music using EarSketch, a code editor available in English, French, Ojibwe and Inuktitut.
Students were able to build coding skills while reflecting on topics like residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, according to a statement from organizers that noted the goal of the event is to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to explore computer science.
Cynthia Caglar, head of Amazon Future Engineer Canada, said they are committed to empowering children and young adults to learn new skills that will give them more opportunities.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Students who participated at the event 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 scholarships, donated by Amazon Music. Runners up will win $200 Amazon gift cards and $25 for honourable mentions while one excellent teacher will receive $1,000 for their remarkable instruction.
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