The committed rapper Samian can add another string to his bow: his music will be used to introduce nearly a thousand young students to the basics of coding.
The program your voice is powerfullaunched on Wednesday by Amazon Canada, will allow high school students from all schools in Canada to try their hand with the EarSketch software, by remixing songs, including invincible people from Samyan. This free online code editor is available in French, Ojibwa and Inuktitut, among others. Entrants will be able to submit their remixes in a contest that will offer two $5,000 prizes.
In addition to Samian, two Indigenous artists have been chosen as spokespersons for the program: Dakota Bear, originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Jayli Wolf, a Toronto-based Anishinaabe and Cree singer-songwriter, actor and director.
“There is a certain decolonization in this program, explains in an interview Samian, reached by telephone at his residence in Sainte-Adèle. The three artists who were chosen have committed texts. It opens a dialogue, we skip the usual curriculum to get out of the history textbook. »
Accustomed to the cause
Although the program your voice is powerful is open to all, it targets more particularly students from underprivileged backgrounds, and more specifically aboriginal people. According to a Ryerson University report, only 1.39% of the tech workforce in Canada identifies as Indigenous. For Samian, using software like EarSketch is “one of the best ways to learn for anyone who wants to start doing remixes, multitracks”. The rapper born in Pikogan, a small indigenous community in Amos in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, learned it “on the job”.
“I started playing on Garage Band, I started to equip myself, I am now able to operate my studio, he says. It is now much more accessible. There is a new generation that is able to seize these opportunities. »
Samian, Samuel Tremblay of his real name, is not quite his first involvement for the Aboriginal cause and social justice. Recipient of the Félix in the Hip-Hop category in 2011, he has also published a collection of poetry from his first three albums and several of his texts in French and Algonquin, often very committed, are included in school textbooks. Since September 2019, he has presented the documentary series On the edge of the world on TV5, where he is interested in the lives of people who have chosen an extraordinary career.
“At the same time, I do a lot of conferences in schools and I will continue to do so, he specifies. We are at a turning point, things are changing for the better. That Amazon has embarked on a program like this, I feel truly privileged. »
“The Art of the 21st Century”
Beyond learning to code, the program your voice is powerful is built in eight modules where students participate in conversations on the lived experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada. It discusses the dark side of history, residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
That students appropriate a hip-hop song by Samian is a beautiful symbol, believes the artist. “Hip-hop has become the best-selling music on the planet. To start from an already existing song, to dissect it and to recreate a new one, using all the work behind the writing, the rhythm and the poetry, it is the art of the 21st century. »