As another fiscal year-end approaches (March 31, 2013) we pause, consider the year that’s been, and look ahead at the year to come.
As regular readers of the Pathways newsletter know, connecting a given community involves both bringing connectivity to the community and last mile work - distributing that connectivity to homes and buildings within the community.
This year we engaged with a larger than normal number of communities that have the transport piece in place and required only last mile work. This permitted work to proceed more quickly and reduced costs.
We are pleased to report that 13 additional communities are now enjoying new or enhanced broadband connections. During the current fiscal year TELUS completed transport work in Ashcroft, Williams Lake (Sugarcane), Mount Currie, Stellat’en and Cooks Ferry. Last mile work was completed by various contractors in the communities of Ashcroft, Williams Lake, Mount Currie, Stellat’en, Cooks Ferry, Tache, Yekooche, Kitasoo, Heiltsuk (Bella Bella), Gitanyow, Gitwangak and Gitsegukla. Northwestel conducted both transport and last mile work, and hooked up the community of Halfway River in the Peace Region.
The AANDC-sponsored First Nations Infrastructure Fund (FNIF) closes March 31, 2013. ANTCO completed all work on this $8-million project and reports that 24 communities benefitted and now have access to high-speed broadband service.
In addition to funding the construction of the broadband infrastructure network, the Pathways project has also established a $5-million Capacity Building Fund and contracted the First Nations Technology Council to provide training and support programs to give communities and new users the online skills they need to fully capitalize on the full benefits of the Internet.
The project’s partnership with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) ensures that connectivity infrastructure work is coordinated with their priorities and that community health centres are wired with the broadband infrastructure appropriate to support the latest eHealth and telehealth services.
The coming year will, of course, feature a number of new communities joining the ranks of the "connected.” It will also be somewhat unique for the Pathways project as we prepare to launch two major infrastructure builds.
In addition to building directly to specific communities, these will be major initiatives which bridge connectivity gaps in remote regions of the province and enable Internet service for a dozen communities or more. We look forward to providing more details in future newsletters as we make progress on other Pathways to Technology projects.
ANTCO would like to acknowledge and thank the project’s steering committee members, the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Technology Council, as well as our funding partners (Network BC, Health Canada and AANDC) and the many people in communities throughout the province who are helping to move this important project forward.
- Ruth Williams, All Nations Trust Company CEO
Posted: April 3, 2013