Q&A: Indigenous perspectives in Web Development

Samantha Nock is a Cree/ Metis writer, web developer and certified cat lady. She's a recent graduate of the Web Development Bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs in Vancouver, where she spent 10 weeks learning how to build websites and apps. She’s now ready to take those skills into the tech sector and work towards her dream of one day using technology to help empower Indigenous communities.

Lighthouse Labs is one of many industry partners working with the First Nations Technology Council to increase Indigenous representation in technology through the Foundations and Futures in Innovation and Technology program. Through the FiiT program, more than 200 Indigenous students have accessed funding from the Technology Council for technology training since 2016.  

Samantha recently spoke to the Technology Council and shared her experiences in the program, her short term and long term goals, and why she thinks it’s important for Indigenous peoples to enter the tech space.

FNTC: How would you describe your experience in the Web Dev program at Lighthouse?

SN: Challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and empowering. The Web Development Bootcamp at LHL is one of the hardest things I've done in my life. It has also been one of the most rewarding experiences. The skills I have gained and the community I became a part of have helped me forward my career in a way that I didn't realize was possible. It has opened up the door to some many opportunities and people.

FNTC: Have you always known you wanted to become a web developer? If not, what made you decide to make it your career path?

SN: I didn't always want to be! It wasn't on my radar until I moved into a house full of devs, some of them Lighthouse Alumni. I saw the cool things they got to do and wanted to do cool things to. 

FNTC: How would you describe web development to someone who knows nothing about it?

SN: You create cool internet things. This is literally what I have told my parents and they seem to buy it.

FNTC: What is your favourite part about web development?

SN: My favourite part of web development is how creative it is. It seems like a stuffy boring tech thing on the outside, but it's actually extremely creative. I'm still amazed what you can do by typing in a couple lines of code.

FNTC: What do you want to accomplish with your new skills, in the short term and the long term?

SN: Short term - I just want to continue my education and continue learning. Lighthouse was only the beginning of my education, now it's time to learn on the job.

Long term- As someone who is no longer a youth and in the position to start giving back to the younger generations, I wanted to be able to help be a mentor and create things that can be helpful. I want to help create things that help our communities have more agency in tech development. There are so many cool and amazing opportunities out there for our people in tech and there are so many amazing things we can create that could truly make a difference.

FNTC: There aren't many Indigenous web developers out there. Why do you think it's important for Indigenous people to enter this field and technology more broadly?

SN: I think it's important for more Indigenous peoples to enter this field because we have so many amazing and bright community members that can enter this field and create new and helpful apps and software. We have the capacity in our communities for an Indigenous tech takeover and I'm here for it.

FNTC: How important do you think it is to have an organization like the First Nations Technology Council working to fund students and increase Indigenous representation in tech?

SN: It's so important. Bootcamps and educational opportunities aren't cheap. It's a huge financial investment. Without the support of FNTC I wouldn't have been able to go to Lighthouse and begin this new journey in my life. I'm very thankful and excited at this new opportunity.

For more information on the educational opportunities offered by the First Nations Technology Council head to http://www.technologycouncil.ca/talent-development

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