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Sparking A Digital Revolution In Doig River

transmission-towerNow that Doig River is connected to high-speed Internet, community members are beginning to take advantage of some of the endless benefits a broadband connection can provide. With every step forward, those in Doig River are helping to bridge the digital divide between First Nations peoples and other British Columbians.

The band is rolling out the high-speed connection to homes in partnership with a local Internet Service Provider. Over the course of the summer, two 12-meter transmission towers were erected and additional broadcast equipment was installed on the existing water tower to provide reliable Internet coverage for the entire community.

As of the end of September, more than half the homes in the community of 250 residents have been connected – boosting everything from community education to existing businesses ventures, which include construction, forestry, and oil and gas operations.

In addition to funding the construction of the broadband infrastructure network, the Pathways to Technology project has also a established a Capacity Building Fund and contracted the First Nations Technology Council to provide community training and support programs to give communities and new users the online skills they need to enjoy the full benefits of the Internet.

One of the major benefits of Doig River’s new high-speed connection is the capacity for the community and FirstVoices to begin an exciting initiative to digitize the Dane-Zaa language. With the project set to begin in October, community language administrators will soon use audio recording equipment to capture the words, songs and stories of local elders, and then upload those files to the FirstVoices online archive.

From there, community members, as well as those who have left the community for school or work, will be able to access dictionaries, alphabets, stories and other resources in an effort to revitalize the language. There will even be an iPod/iPad app that speakers and others can download to interact with the digital language library.

"We are very excited to be working with the Doig River First Nation to establish this invaluable language archive for the Dane-Zaa language,” said Tracey Herbert, Executive Director of the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council. "Dane-Zaa language speakers will be joining the other BC First Nations already using FirstVoices technology to ensure that First Nations languages, and the knowledge preserved within them, will last forever.”

Doig River is also the first community to be connected under the Pathways project’s contract with TELUS. In recognition of this major milestone, TELUS donated five computers to outfit the community’s Dane-Zaa Asdishtl’sh Learning Place. This will further help children, youth and their families connect to the Internet as part of their homework club, for e-learning projects and cultural research.

"TELUS has a long history of connecting First Nations communities in BC, and welcomes the opportunity to further that commitment in partnership with ANTCO and the provincial government, " said Tony Geheran, TELUS senior vice-president of Customer Solutions Delivery. "We will be connecting communities to broadband over some of the most challenging terrain in the world. It is ambitious work, and we have the expertise and determination to take it on to make these critical connections a reality for BC’s First Nations.”

Posted: November 8, 2011