A new fibre optic line being built between Port Alberni and Ucluelet will connect nine remote First Nations with high-speed Internet service that community leaders say will unlock a wealth of business, social and nation building opportunities.
The technology infrastructure upgrade is the result of a partnership between All Nations Trust Company, through the Pathways to Technology project, TELUS, BC Hydro, and the B.C. Government.
The nine First Nations communities – Opitsaht, Macoah, Uchucklesaht, Ahousaht, Esowista, Huu-ay-aht, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet), Hesquiat, and Ty-Histanis – currently have no Internet access or only limited service.
The new high-speed connection will give communities with health centres the necessary bandwidth to partner with the First Nations Health Authority to run cutting-edge e-Health and telehealth technologies, such as remote consultations with medical specialists. Local schools, homes, businesses and First Nations government offices will also be connected.
It is anticipated that the infrastructure build will be complete by early 2016, when work will then begin to connect First Nations communities to the broadband service.
The objective of the multi-year Pathways to Technology project, managed by All Nations Trust Company with funding from the B.C. Government and the Government of Canada, is to connect or enhance high-speed Internet connectivity in First Nations communities in British Columbia that currently have no Internet access or only limited service. Reliable high-speed Internet access will help support opportunities for education, health care, culture, and economic development for First Nations people.
Paul Donald, Chief Executive Officer, All Nations Trust Company -
"Connecting local First Nations with affordable high-speed Internet access will help them provide more education and training opportunities for residents, improve health care and power up their economies. By working in partnership with communities and governments we can make sure all First Nations communities in B.C. have modern technology in place to succeed.”
Chief Greg Louie, Ahousaht First Nation -
"As Chief Councilor of The Ahousaht First Nation I wish to thank all those who have worked so hard over the past 18 months to make this happen. I am excited that broadband communications in the form of Fiber Optic Technology is coming to the west coast of Vancouver Island. A much improved communications link to our isolated community benefits our people, schools and businesses and will make Ahousaht a safer place to live and work. We look forward to working with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Development Corporation to extend this infrastructure from Tofino to Meares Island (Opitsaht) and Ahousaht as soon as possible. "
Saya Masso, Chairman, TFN Economic Development Corporation -
"The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations see the supply of high speed communications infrastructure to its traditional territory as a significant step towards economic self sufficiency. We applaud the commitment by the contributing partners whose efforts were so critical to making this project a reality. First Nations communities within the region serviced by this infrastructure will see important social and economic development benefits as a result.”
Charles McCarthy, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Legislature President -
"We've had very slow Internet service here for years, but the reliability of this broadband connection means that our service won't hinge on the number of users online or a satellite dish Citizens can take part in distance learning or use the Internet for a home-based business.
Our government will be able to take advantage of the service to reach out to our people. We could host our People's Assemblies and other government meetings online to increase participation.”
Al Little, General Manager, Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) -
"This Internet upgrade will help make existing businesses in our region more competitive by enabling them to do business at the same speed as others. It will also create opportunities for new e-based and home-based businesses that until now have been unable to start up due to slow or no Internet connectivity.”
Barb Audet, Board President, Best Western Tin Wis Resort -
"High speed Internet access is now one of the most important requirements of guests in virtually every hotel and resort and Tin Wis is no exception. Expanding Internet bandwidth through the installation of fibre-optic cabling is perhaps the most requested amenity by Tin Wis guests while the current, very poor Internet service available to the Resort is the cause, by far, of the most of the guest complaints.”
Joseph Mendez, First Nations Health Authority, Chief Information Officer -
"This new infrastructure will support the First Nations Health Authority and our work with Nuu-chah-nulth health service partners to enhance wellness services for First Nations communities. We look forward to furthering telehealth delivery and access to health information at the point of care securely and efficiently supporting First Nations decision-making and health information needs.”
Posted: December 17, 2014