People living in five Northern Ontario First Nation communities will be able to connect with friends and family across Canada and around the world, and have improved access to distance education, skills training, and new business opportunities, thanks to a joint investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario of up to $69.2 million in the Ring of Fire region.
The Government of Canada will invest up to $37.1 million in the project, through Connect to Innovate, a federal program that allows Canadians in every region of the country to participate fully in the digital economy, by providing remote and underserved communities with Internet access. Connect to Innovate funding will be allocated to Rapid Lynx Telecommunications to install about 880 kilometres of new fibre optic cable to five fly-in communities in Northern Ontario.
The Government of Ontario will invest up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management Inc. to bring modern fibre-optic cable to the area. The project will see the installation of buried cable from Wunnumin Lake through the five Matawa-member communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Marten Falls, and Webequie First Nations, connecting south to Aroland First Nation.
“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns,” said David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO of Matawa First Nations Management. “Our First Nation community members will benefit in so many ways. Connectivity is crucial to their well-being. Better services through broadband fibre optic construction will eliminate the digital divide between our First Nations and the rest of the world. It will facilitate greater efficiencies in the delivery of First Nation services, including access to health and education technologies and practices, grants and programs, family and court services, banking and credit services and the gamut of other opportunities that high-speed internet provides.”
The Government of Canada is also providing $2.1 million for this project through its First Nation Infrastructure Fund through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, a program that helps advance public infrastructure to improve the quality of life and the environment for First Nation communities.
The $500 million invested under the Government’s Connect to Innovate program focuses on building the digital backbone of high-speed Internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a global and digital world.