Connectivity achievements celebrated on Haida Gwaii

July 4, 2022 at 2:09 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Province, the Government of Canada, Coastal First Nations and Haida Nation are coming together to honour the passing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to celebrate the economic achievements unlocked through digital connectivity investments for coastal and island First Nations.  

This celebration, led by Coastal and Haida Nations, sets the stage for future policy planning that is aligned with the provincial Declaration Act by bringing together all orders of government to celebrate the outcomes of digital investments from all governments and their partners.

“The vast benefits of being digitally connected are coming to fruition for people and businesses on Haida Gwaii as a result of all levels of government and Indigenous partners working together to bring multiple foundational investments to the region,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This co-ordinated investment has been the catalyst for transformational initiatives like the Connected Coast project, which will bring world-class broadband connectivity and economic benefits to residents of B.C.’s coastal communities.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of high-speed internet and cellular connectivity to conduct day-to-day business, learn at home, and connect with loved ones. The Province, together with other orders of government, and internet service providers, is making investments that will build the infrastructure needed to bring connectivity to rural, remote and Indigenous communities throughout the province. B.C. has committed to connecting all households in the province with high-speed internet by 2027.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring all Canadians are connected, including those living in rural and remote communities,” said Gudie Hutchings, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development. “We are pleased to partner with the Province of British Columbia to bring high-speed internet to the Haida Gwaii region and ensure that every nook and cranny of British Columbia is connected. We will continue to make investments like these to help achieve our national target of connecting 98% of Canadians by 2026 and 100% by 2030.”

The arrival of the subsea cable-laying vessel in Haida Gwaii marks the completion of fibre-optic cable-laying activities between Haida Gwaii and the B.C. coastal mainland, and is the first step toward better connectivity for Haida Gwaii residents. The Connected Coast project will bring high-speed internet to approximately 139 rural and remote communities, including 48 First Nations communities, along the B.C. coast from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The project is approximately 45% complete, with more than 500 kilometres of fibre-optic cable laid and 21 landing sites complete.

“The digital divide has long been an obstacle that hindered our communities from taking full advantage of new opportunities to improve our well-being — culturally, socially or environmentally,” said Christine Smith-Martin, CEO, Coastal First Nations. “We are thrilled to work with other governments and industry to finally bridge that divide by bringing high-speed internet to our communities. The Connected Coast will spur innovation and create new opportunities for local businesses to thrive in the digital economy and give our young people a chance to succeed while staying close to home.” 

In March 2022, the Province partnered with the federal government to provide as much as $830 million to expand high-speed internet services to the remaining rural and First Nations communities that are underserved.

The Province’s investment is part of the StrongerBC initiative under B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to build back a strong economy that focuses on inclusive growth for communities.

Quotes:

Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop), President, Haida Nation –

“Technological advances must keep pace with our community needs today and into the future. Self-sufficiency and sovereignty as a Nation requires access to the tools needed to succeed in transitioning our economy and growing our communities in new and exciting ways. Through greater investments and partnerships in connectivity, we can ensure the talents within our communities and the work to uphold our inherent title and rights are shared with a wider audience.” 

Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest –

“Laying the subsea cable from Bonilla Island to Tlell is another amazing milestone for Connected Coast. We have been working with the Council of the Haida Nation, Skidegate Band Council, and Old Massett Band Council to develop connectivity to each of their communities.  As a social enterprise, we are excited about our future together, and we are grateful to the Province and the federal government for their support. This project will continue to gain momentum throughout 2022, paving the way for a summer of significant cable-laying along the coast of British Columbia. Bringing this fibre-optic backbone infrastructure across the Hecate Strait is another step towards better connectivity for all of British Columbia.”

Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer, Rogers –

“Connectivity is an essential part of life today, and Rogers is pleased to be partnering with coastal First Nations to deliver Internet and wireless connections across Haida Gwaii and to many rural, remote and Indigenous communities throughout the province, including along the Highway of Tears. By supporting Indigenous conservation-based economies and environmental stewardship, we are providing a path to reconciliation and honouring the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

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

“Telus is committed to ensuring everyone can thrive in our digital world, no matter where they live. As part of our ongoing investments to connect more people on the Island to our world-leading wireless networks and to high-speed Internet through Mascon by Telus, we are proud to have worked alongside the government to equip residents and businesses with the unmatched internet capacity and symmetrical speeds they need.”

Learn More:

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

StrongerBC: B.C.’s Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.ca/plan

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