August 20, 2021

For many Canadians, using the Internet is just another part of our daily lives, whether you’re sending work emails or catching up with friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for all. The federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) found that while 97% of urban households have access to high-speed internet, only 37% in rural communities and 24% in Indigenous communities have that luxury. This “digital divide”, a term coined to describe the gap between those with access to technology and the Internet and those without, was made even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. As our world explores hybrid work, education, healthcare, and everything else in-between, ensuring widespread, reliable Internet is an integral step in making strides toward equal access to opportunities for First Nation and other remote communities.

In 2020, CES partnered with Couchiching First Nation to complete a Fibre Feasibility Study and explore various alternatives for the community to gain fibre optic connectivity. Our team assessed connectivity needs through engagement with community members and businesses, as well as worked with experts to research the technology behind fibre networks and infrastructure needed to sustain one. We presented various alternatives to achieving fibre optic connectivity and recommended an implementation plan with actionable steps, potential costs, and estimated timelines for Couchiching First Nation to make informed decisions and begin the next phase in planning.

Since the Study was completed, Grand Council Treaty #3’s Dibaajimowin Project (previously called the Territorial Internet Connectivity Project) was approved for federal funding and is underway, which will connect Couchiching First Nation and 20 other Treaty 3 communities to fibre optic by 2025. Couchiching First Nation was included in the application during the time the Feasibility Study was written, and the option was explored in depth by our team. In the meantime, infrastructure data that our team is collecting for Grand Council Treaty #3’s 911 & Infrastructure Mapping project is helping lay the foundation for the project’s fibre installation. The Dibaajimowin Project is a huge achievement for Northwestern Ontario, and we’re so excited to see a more connected Treaty 3 region in the future!

Read more about the Dibaajimowin Project here: