UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
CanU Jazz Academy

CanU makes beautiful music with inner city youth

December 6, 2013 — 

CanU is an after-school program that inspires hope and confidence in inner city youth. Each week, Grade 5 and Grade 6 students from central Winnipeg travel on the CanU bus to the U of M where they deepen their literacy, learn to cook healthy foods and are active in sport and music.

Grade 5 and 6 students are exposed to a post-secondary environment, often for the first time.  The brainchild of Roger Berrington, who was volunteering in inner city schools at the time, Can U started in 2010 as a pilot program at the U of M. Its continued success has meant that the number of kids coming to the U of M as part of the program has increased exponentially.

This term the Desautels Faculty of Music is involved in CanU with their CanU Jazz Academy. The music program took place once per week throughout the term.

Steve Kirby, associate professor and director of jazz studies, says that they “have three songs on the hopper and we are currently using all the time to practice those. We are now basically in garage band mode.”

The program is largely run by volunteer student mentors from the U of M.

Students from many faculties across campus are now involved, including students from: Faculty of Human Ecology, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Kinesiology & Recreation Management, Bison Sports, Track & Field Team, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball, Let’s Talk Science, W.I.S.E Kidnetics (Faculty of Engineering), Bruce A. Campbell Discovery Centre (Faculty of Agriculture), Jamie Oliviero (Resident Storyteller) and Desautels Faculty of Music (new for Fall 2013).

In addition to practical life skills and new friends, participants and mentors leave CanU with a greater understanding of each other, and how they are called to be leaders in their community. As their website reads, “CanU is a challenge to promote hope and confidence; and it is the University of CAN!”

Scroll down for photos from the most recent gathering of the Grade 5 and Grade 6 students and their U of M Faculty of Music student mentors.


The Faculty of Music's CanU after-school program: The CanU Jazz Academy.

The Faculty of Music’s CanU after-school program: The CanU Jazz Academy.


On the drums! at the CanU Jazz Academy.

Jazz guitar! Now on the drums!


Gimme more of them jazz drums.

Gimme more of them jazz drums.


Such a satisfying sound.

Such a satisfying sound.


Jazz piano.

Jazz piano.


Getting the vocals right at Jazz U.

Working the vocals at Jazz U.


Director of jazz studies Steve Kirby leads the jazz action.

Director of jazz studies Steve Kirby leads the action.

, , ,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341