Nova Scotia·Audio

Eskasoni teacher behind Blackbird cover selected for national award

Carter Chiasson, the Allison Bernard Memorial High School teacher behind the band program that spawned the Mi'kmaw cover of Blackbird, has been named the 2020 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.

Carter Chiasson will pick up MusiCounts Teacher of the Year next month at the Juno awards

Emma Stevens and her music teacher, Carter Chiasson, work on their cover of Blackbird by The Beatles. (Submitted by Katani Julian)

Eskasoni teacher Carter Chiasson has been selected for a national honour.

The Allison Bernard Memorial High School teacher behind the band program that spawned the cover of the Beatles hit Blackbird in Mi'kmaq, sung by Emma Stevens, has won the 2020 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.

Toronto-based MusiCounts is a music-education charity connected to the Juno Awards. The award includes $10,000 prize for Chiasson and a $10,000 donation to the school.

"I'm big on keeping things authentic for the kids so I'm always trying to come up with projects that are true to their lives outside of school," Chiasson told CBC's Information Morning in Sydney on Friday.

"We cover all the same curriculum stuff that you'd see, that everyone is familiar with. I try to meet outcomes by projects like writing these songs, recording these songs."

A YouTube video of Stevens singing Blackbird has more than a million views.

The cover was produced by Chiasson using translated lyrics.

Since it went viral, Chiasson and Stevens have caught the attention of the United Nations and Blackbird songwriter Paul McCartney. The two have travelled to Nairobi and Abu Dhabi because of the song.

Chiasson will pick up the award when the Juno awards are held in Saskatoon in March. He said the presentation of the award won't be broadcast, but he and Emma will get a chance to perform at an industry event.

As for his next venture, Chiasson said he and his students are in the process of developing a language app to revive Mi'kmaq.

"I think that's the big thing with me is to try to teach the kids real life skills as well as all the other stuff we have to teach them in school," he said.

Music To Their Ears... thanks to his work with his students in Eskasoni, music teacher Carter Chiasson has been named this year's recipient of the MusiCounts "Teacher of the Year" Award. He will be recognized at the Junos next month in Saskatoon. 7:30

With files from Steve Sutherland and Information Morning Sydney

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