Remixing northern voices while learning to code

March 30, 2015

ᐅᓇ ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑑᖓᔪᖅ ᐅᖃᓕᒫᕈᒃ


This blog post originally appeared on the Google Official Canada Blog, published on March 25, 2015, celebrating the Northern launch of Codemakers.

“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard!”

That was Nelson Tagoona’s reaction this morning when he heard the Nakasuk Elementary school’s throat singing club using audio-based coding tools to remix their voices. Nelson is an Inuit beatboxer who has a passion for all things digital. Today in Iqaluit he is joining a team from Google and Actua as part of the launch of Codemakers –  a national initiative aimed at changing the way Canada’s youth think about computer science and technology.

“Throat singing is how we can pass on the traditions of our past.” Nelson told me as he helped the children mix and digitize the stories they shared in song.  “By learning to code and remixing our voices, these kids have created something that’s new and totally amazing but still rooted in our culture. And we can now share it with the world.” 

Jace Meyer of Actua works with a young student of Nakasuk Elementary helping her use coding software to remix her voice

This week’s workshop in Iqaluit, which also includes modules on 3D printing Inuit art and coding simple video games, is the first of hundreds of Codemakers programs and camps that will soon run in Canada's urban centres and high north. And, as we prepare to roll out Codemakers across Canada this summer, today’s event serves as the very first step towards engaging thousands of Canadian youth in activities that enable them to connect, create and produce their own culturally relevant content.

Nelson Tagoona performs with some of the Nakasuk Elementary School throat singing club.

Nelson is an inspiration to the children in this classroom. He sees computer science as a tool to mobilize and empower his community.

So do Actua and Google. Codemakers is a three-year project developed by Google engineers and Actua experts that will transform the way youth engage with computer science. The program has an ambitious goal: to inspire more than 100,000 young Canadians, including girls and young women, Aboriginal youth and youth facing socio-economic challenges, to become the computer science builders and innovators of tomorrow.

Today in Iqaluit we took our first step to delivering on that goal. And, thanks to the students of  Nakasuk Elementary, we created a pretty great soundtrack too!