Canada and Quebec have backed a plan to expand high-speed Internet across the province, with a joint investment of $ 94 million that will support local businesses, co-ops and nonprofits.
Double The Éclair II component, (Lightning phase 2) the second phase of the Quebec Internet initiative aims to offer high-speed Internet to 18,000 other households in remote regions and aboriginal communities by September 2022.
Almost 40,000 households still waiting for new networks will also see more money and a faster deployment of local infrastructure.
In Kahnawake, First Nations Wireless – soon to be called First Nations Fiber – will receive a total of $ 5 million. Director of operations Kameron Lahache said his company will provide fiber-optic internet access to all households and businesses in Kahnawake by next year.
“A new digital age is on the horizon for our community,” said Lahache, “and we are convinced that with the realization of this project, our community, our culture and our identity will be strengthened…”
Newly elected Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said it was good news for a community that has struggled to stay connected during the pandemic.
“Well, it was really difficult… during the pandemic, for us even as a local government,” Sky-Deer said. “Being cut off, losing people in meetings… It will definitely improve the level of connectivity in our community. “
Sky-Deer says it is already considering how to use the new fiber-optic network in Kahnawake as a tool for cultural celebration and preservation.
“We can now use technology as a way to promote our culture, identity, language and community,” she said, “with different programming and the availability for us to connect in this way.”
“Technology is the way of the future,” Sky-Deer said, “and there is endless potential and possibilities for us to use it to our advantage.”
Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller said providing reliable and faster internet to First Nations is part of an effort to “bridge the infrastructure gap” and move towards reconciliation.
“Across Canada, we know that when we say remote it’s often a proxy for Indigenous communities, and the access isn’t there…. ” he said. “Only 31.3 percent of First Nations have Internet access up to the standard …”
“Our work helps build vibrant Indigenous communities across this country,” he said.
Many other communities are still waiting
Quebec MP Gilles Bélanger, who is in charge of the high-speed Internet file in Quebec, says he hopes high-speed Internet will provide a similar boost to small towns and remote areas, increasing productivity and making it easier to launch. new businesses.
The province says it will make another announcement on high-speed Internet access later this year, as there are still about 18,000 Quebec households – mostly in sparsely populated and hard-to-reach areas – that are not included. of his plan.
Grand Chief Sky-Deer agrees that the federal and provincial governments working hand in hand with Indigenous communities on projects like this is a step forward.
“Everyone is hearing about this reconciliation with indigenous peoples across the country and on Turtle Island,” she said.
“So if this is an example that we can show where there is a positive outcome through our collaboration, then I would like to see more in the future.”