Bringing the power of the Internet to First Nation communities across the province can have a profound impact.
A perfect example of that is the community of Dease Lake 9. Located just a few hours south of the Yukon border, the First Nation is located in the heart of Cassiar Country. With a long a history in gold discovery and guiding, Dease Lake 9 is now rapidly expanding into the tourism, resource and industrial fields, with jade mining playing a big role in the local economy.
Prior to working with Pathways to Technology, the community had only unreliable satellite and dial-up Internet connections. That all changed when Dease Lake 9 became one of the first communities in the province to receive the benefits of the Pathways program. Now, with the help of Northwestel and microwave technology, the community’s offices, schools, and homes can access high-speed Internet.
"This has had a big impact throughout the community,” said Jamie Sterritt, Community Relations Officer with the Pathways Project. "Having high-speed Internet access gives Dease Lake a real opportunity to communicate with people in other towns and cities, whether they are an hour or a world away.”
"The partnership with Pathways has been an extremely rewarding one for Northwestel. The Internet service provided is every bit as fast as can be found in larger southern centres and residents pay no more than in any other northern community,” said Mark Walker, Vice President of Business Solutions with Northwestel. "It is obvious that there is real demand for the service as our customer numbers surpassed our expectations in the first year of operation.”
As part of the Pathways project, Northwestel was also contracted to provide broadband internet service to Iskut and Telegraph Creek, two other Tahltan communities.
The new Internet services provided by Pathways to Technology are already allowing First Nations businesses to conference with other communities without even stepping out the door, while using online banking to manage everything from investments to taxes. Students can also access endless educational resources online, and stay in contact with their friends through social media websites like Facebook. Even the community itself is benefitting from the chance to attract tourism and businesses opportunities with a presence on the Internet.
Moving forward, Pathways to Technology will be working with the First Nations Health Council as part of their efforts to create a fully integrated First Nations clinical telehealth network in British Columbia. The people living in Dease Lake, Telegraph Creek and Iskut will soon be able to have remote appointments with doctors and specialists, rather than travelling hundreds of kilometres for treatment.