The Ashcroft Indian Band, nestled in the heart of the Thompson Okanagan, is another BC First Nation now receiving the benefits of a high-speed Internet connection. With the help of the Pathways team, the community of 100 people has upgraded from an unreliable connection to the unparalleled advantages of broadband service.
Until the fall of 2012, the community’s band office relied on a satellite connection that was often rendered useless by strong winds and heavy snow. The spotty service was also costing as much as $400 per month – while still leaving Ashcroft’s homes and health centre off the online grid. Now a new fiber connection at the band administration building is the nucleus to the community connection.
"Very few people in the community had ever accessed the Internet, or even owned a computer until the Pathways project completed a wireless network for all of our band members,” said Darcy Robinson, Ashcroft’s Band Administrator.
Realizing the need, Ashcroft council partnered with Computers for Schools to distribute 20 refurbished computers to band members – giving them all the tools necessary to step into the digital world.
"They were incredibly happy and thankful to receive a home computer. Many people couldn’t afford a desktop, or simply weren’t motivated to get one without affordable access to the Internet,” added Robinson. "But by charging just a $10 monthly fee, we’re providing those who may have felt left behind in the past the opportunity to get caught up with modern communication.”
Now the entire community is taking advantage of the improved Internet services; from searching for work in the mining, forestry or service industries to simply connecting with family and friends via Facebook. There has also been an influx of traffic to the Ashcroft Indian Band website, where community members are using their new online connection to contact council and band administration while, in turn, receiving information about local meetings and events.
The Nation’s economic development project, Nl’Akapxm Eagle Motorplex, is also making the most of high-speed connectivity – installing online debit machines and marking its 25th anniversary by developing social media pages to connect with racers and clients throughout the province.
Working together with Pathways to Technology, the Ashcroft Indian band is capitalizing on the benefits of a high-speed Internet connection, providing the support and education necessary to ensure a strong digital foundation for its people.