MONTREAL – Equal provincial and federal investments in infrastructure and a partnership with a local Internet service provider will allow every household in Kahnawake to have access to high-speed Internet by September 2022, project organizers announced during ‘a major event on Wednesday morning at the Kahnawake Sports Complex.
“This is an important day for the community,” said Kameron Lahache, director of operations for First Nations Fiber. “It will change the digital landscape of our community. There will be fast and reliable Internet access to all members of our community. “
Despite its proximity to Montreal, high speed Internet access is not currently available to all homes in the community. With the installation of 300 km of fiber optic cable, Lahache said, every household in the community will be able to access the network, whether through First Nations fiber optic (which was called First Nations Wireless before Lahache announced a name change to better reflect their service offerings).
“Due to the limitations of technology, we were far behind. Now every business, every home will have access to an internet network created locally, managed locally and maintained locally,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”
The network was created through a joint investment of $ 94 million split equally between the federal and provincial governments – $ 47 million each, to provide all households in Quebec, including Kahnawake, with access High speed internet by September 2022.
Provincial Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ian Lafrenière said the importance of connecting First Nations communities to high-speed internet is of the utmost importance for students, medical appointments and businesses.
“In 2021, this is more than important. It is vital. The importance of education, access to medical services and in business if you are not connected to high speed internet you are going to have a hard time competing and that is why it is so important ”, said Lafrenière.
With only one in four First Nations households connected to Quebec, Lafrenière said the issue of getting three-quarters high-speed Internet access is of paramount importance.
“It’s important for Quebec, but it’s just as important for the indigenous peoples and communities,” he said, adding that satellites may need to be used to cover remote northern communities.
Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said it is high time for governments at all levels to help bridge the infrastructure gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and that includes access to Internet.
“In terms of housing, clean water and general infrastructure, we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Miller said, adding that only 31 percent of First Nations communities in Canada have access to high-speed internet. Soon that number will include all of Kahnawake.
“This is a resilient community,” he said, adding that connecting communities with strong partnerships like the one with First Nations Fiber, will pay off for Indigenous peoples across Canada.
“This is a strong partnership, and one, in the future, will be able to help vulnerable populations and is part of our reconciliation with indigenous peoples,” he said.