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BC Government: Improving internet for people in Indigenous communities

Press Release

Aug. 23, 2021

ASHCROFT – People within the territories of 10 First Nations will see improved internet speeds and reliability this fall as record investments from the Connecting British Columbia program continue to support improved connectivity for Indigenous peoples.

“Working together with First Nations, the private sector and all levels of government, we are seeing steady progress toward a future where all Indigenous communities have the fast and reliable internet access they need,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “These investments will enable the broader use of technology – from making video calls with friends and family, to remote learning or job training. This will open doors to new economic and social opportunities for people as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Telus will receive up to $3.58 million from the Connecting British Columbia program for projects to improve the speed and reliability of internet access in communities within the territories of the Ashcroft Indian Band, Upper Nicola Band, Cook’s Ferry First Nation, Shackan Indian Band, Bonaparte First Nation, Saik’uz First Nation, Kitselas First Nation, Lheidli T’enneh and Coldwater Indian Band.

“Fast and reliable internet is needed for so much of what we do today,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “These projects are an important step to ensuring people in Indigenous communities have the connectivity they need to stay in touch with friends and family, market their businesses online, access remote education and training and benefit from the convenience of technologies like video conferencing.”

Jodene Blain, band administrator with the Ashcroft Indian Band, said: “The Ashcroft Indian Band is thrilled to finally have high-speed access for our community. This project will open the door for so many opportunities for the staff to bring in programs to our members, as well as offer digital options for each home. We have already started planning how to roll out community activities for all ages and we could not be more excited to partner with Telus. This partnership will change the way we offer programs to our members, so everyone is connected and part of our digital community.”

Internet service provider ABC Communications has been approved for a Connecting British Columbia program grant of up to $322,010. The grant will support a project to improve high-speed internet access in Yekooche First Nation territory.

As part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, people in rural and Indigenous communities throughout the province are benefiting from record investments to improve high-speed internet and expand cellular access along provincial highways. In September 2020, the Province made its largest contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program, with $90 million in new funding under StrongerBC.

Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) has been the fund administrator for Connecting British Columbia since its start in 2015. NDIT is a regionally operated economic development funding corporation for central and northern British Columbia and operates independently from government.

Quotes:

Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief customer officer, Telus –

“This partnership with First Nation governments and the Province will deliver upon our collective commitment to bridge digital divides, bringing more people in B.C. the technology they need to fully participate in the digital economy. By connecting Indigenous communities to Telus’s world-leading networks, we are supporting cultural revitalization and economic diversification, while broadening access to digital and virtual health care.”

Falko Kadenbach, manager of operations, ABC Communications –

“Communication is paramount to our ability to grow and foster our rural communities throughout British Columbia. The partnership between Yekooche First Nation, the Province of British Columbia and ABC Communications is just another step to achieving this goal. The completion of this project will mark yet another milestone in connectivity achievements in the region.”

Joel McKay, CEO, NDIT –

“The Connecting British Columbia program continues to bring reliable, high-speed internet to communities across British Columbia, and the commitment to First Nations is a key component of this program. These projects will bring multiple benefits and provide opportunities now and well into the future.”

Quick Facts:

  • This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC.
  • Telus has received conditional approval for several Connecting British Columbia program grants to improve internet services for people in the territories of the Ashcroft Indian Band (up to $67,500), Upper Nicola Band, Cook’s Ferry First Nation, Shackan Indian Band and Douglas Lake (up to $789,508), Bonaparte First Nation (up to $98,280), Saik’uz First Nation (up to $567,790), Kitselas First Nation, Lheidli T’enneh ($2.44 million) and Coldwater Indian Band (up to $185,173).
  • ABC Communications has received conditional approval for a Connecting British Columbia program grant up to $322,010 to improve internet services for people in Yekooche First Nation.

Learn More:

Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc

StrongerBC: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/

Contact:

Ministry of Citizens’ Services
Government Communications and Public Engagement
778 698-1847 / 250 812-8768

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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