Expanding Broadband Infrastructure in Remote Northern Ontario

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high speed internet

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 Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced 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.  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.

“Access to fast, reliable internet service will create opportunities for our First Nation peoples which will benefit the entire Ring of Fire development.” said MP Terry Sheehan, ” The opportunities for education, innovation and social interaction are a part of Canada’s digital economy in which all Canadians should be able participate, no matter where we choose to live in this vast nation. I’m absolutely thrilled to see our government take action on making high speed internet available to the Ring of Fire Region.”

Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, announced the Province 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.

“By investing in broadband infrastructure that will bring high speed Internet to Matawa-member First Nations, Ontario will help improve the quality of life of residents by increasing fairness and opportunity for everyone.  Our government recognizes that the availability of high‑speed Internet infrastructure is critical for economic development and access to important resources and services such as health care and education.” said
Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

“Internet access for all Canadians, no matter where they live, is critical. Projects like this one will enable these five First Nations communities to have greater access to important digital tools, leading to greater educational and economic opportunity, and ultimately stronger communities.” said, The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services

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 ministers were joined today in Thunder Bay at the announcement by Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott, Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, of Marten Falls First Nation, Chief Elizabeth Atlookan, Eabametoong First Nation and Chief Wayne Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation.

“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns.  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.” said  David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management