Ochekwi-Sipi | Treaty 5 | 1875

Canada plans to Improve High-Speed Internet Access in 112 remote Manitoba Communities

January 9, 2018

The feds will chip in up to $43.7 million of the combined $83.9 million project from their Connect to Innovate program, while the provincial government will add up to an additional $20 million,

Federal and provincial funding will bring high-speed internet to rural and remote locations in the province after a joint announcement by the federal and provincial governments on Tuesday.

The feds will chip in up to $43.7 million of the combined $83.9 million project from their Connect to Innovate program, while the provincial government will add up to an additional $20 million, which they announced on Tuesday at the Millenium Library in downtown Winnipeg.

Premier Brian Pallister said his background growing up on a farm had its challenges when it came to communication.

“But those don’t exist now,” he said. “This is an example of how we can take one of those challenges and address it head-on. Access to quick Internet services and the knowledge and information you can develop through that mechanism is really, really important to us in growing our province and helping young people not having to leave their community to learn and grow in their skills.”

A further $3.5 million will come from Indigenous Services Canada and $16.7 will come from other contributors.

The new service will come via Clear Sky Communications, a Manitoba First Nations-owned and operated Internet service provider (ISP), who has been granted access to the existing fibre-optic cable network and related assets by Manitoba Hydro. Three other ISPs will also be involved.

“A goal will now become reality: to see enhanced access to high-speed internet and the opportunities and servers that come with improved Internet services,” said chief Nelson Genaille of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and co-chair of Clear Sky Communications.

The project, which is slated for completion in 2019, will reach 112 communities in northern Manitoba, including 48 First Nations.

The project is part of federal Liberals five-year Connect to Innovate program, which is designed to extend and enhance high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities across the country.

“This is really about bridging that difficult divide and this a critical infrastructure development that we highlighted today,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development with the federal government. “The project will start immediately.”

The Look North Report and Action Plan for Manitoba’s North Economy were released last October and suggested that access to high-speed internet in the north was a priority for residents, saying it would be key to unlocking the potential for people in northern communities as well as being an economic driver.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs grand chief Arlen Dumas said Tuesday was another step in the right direction when it comes to reconciliation

“It’s a tangible example of reconciliation in this country,” Dumas said. “It’s actually an opportunity where we can do something tangible and actually prove and show a result instead of saying a flowery word like reconciliation with no tangible result. It’s something deliverable to the people of northern Manitoba and all of Manitoba overall.”

-Files from the Winnipeg Sun/Photo courtesy of Chief David Crate

Last modified: January 9, 2018

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