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Faster internet access now available on Haida Gwaii

June 26, 2024 at 9:12 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People in more than 1,500 households on Haida Gwaii now have access to high-speed internet services enabling faster, more reliable access to digital services and opportunities.

“Ensuring the same level of connectivity and access to services and opportunities for people no matter where they live is a priority for us, so anyone anywhere in B.C. can succeed,” said George Chow, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “We’re committed to ensuring every home in B.C. has access to high-speed internet services by 2027.”

The new connectivity infrastructure, built and operated by service-provider CityWest, is providing faster, more reliable broadband internet services for members of the Council of the Haida Nation in the villages of Daajing Giids, Gaw Tlagée, HlGaagilda and Masset.

“This project is not only providing faster broadband, but also enabling greater opportunities for education, health care, and the enhancement of our islands’ economy,” said Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, President of the Haida Nation. “Improving connectivity ensures we all have access to essential services and can fully engage in the interconnected global economy.”

The Government of British Columbia invested about $4.6 million through the Connecting British Columbia program administered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust. CityWest contributed about $2 million toward the approximately $6.6 million total cost of the project.

This project is part of the Province’s commitment to coastal First Nations to ensure high-speed internet access for communities throughout the Central Coast and North Coast regions and Haida Gwaii. Access to high-speed internet supports world-renowned stewardship programs, like the Coastal Guardian Watchmen, that protect and manage the water, land and air in the region. Connectivity ensures the delivery of digital training and online health-care solutions and supports Indigenous-led language and cultural revitalization programs.

“As communities along the Central, North Coast and Haida Gwaii get connected through high-speed internet and are included in B.C.’s ever-growing digital economy, there is a wealth of cultural wisdom, knowledge, and world-renowned stewardship leadership to showcase to the world,” said Christine Smith-Martin, CEO, Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative. “Connectivity is foundational to our sovereignty and presents unprecedented opportunities for our future generations.” 

The Province’s investment is part of StrongerBC: Good Lives in Strong Communities, its vision outlining investments to help build a brighter future for rural communities and the people who call them home. Increasing connectivity also supports Clean and Competitive: A Blueprint for B.C.’s Industrial Future.

In March 2022, the governments of British Columbia and Canada announced a partnership to invest up to $830 million to expand high-speed internet services. B.C.’s commitment is to connect all remaining under-served households in B.C. by 2027. The Connecting British Columbia and Connecting Communities BC funding programs support projects to expand high-speed internet access to rural and remote areas of the province. The plan to connect all households will level the playing field for British Columbians, ensuring better access to services and economic opportunities for every community.

Quotes:

Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast; Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –

“Faster, more reliable internet access on Haida Gwaii provides people with the connectivity they need to succeed in their home communities. Upgraded internet service will unlock new opportunities and services for people in these communities, ensuring everyone can thrive.”

Joshua Humphries, chief administrative officer, Village of Masset                                                                                                                   

“The establishment of high-speed internet has swiftly become an essential service for our community and is a testament to progress on Haida Gwaii. We extend our gratitude to the government’s StrongerBC program and CityWest for their pivotal role in making these investments, and we look forward to future developments that will fortify and safeguard our connectivity, paving the way for even more progress.”

Stefan Woloszyn, chief executive officer, CityWest  –

“These projects on Haida Gwaii represent a large step in closing the connectivity gap and ensuring that more rural British Columbians have access to reliable internet. We are honoured to partner with the North Coast Regional District, the Council of the Haida Nation, the Old Massett Village Council, and the Skidegate Band Council to deliver services throughout Haida Gwaii.”

Joel McKay, chief executive officer, Northern Development Initiative Trust –

“Haida Gwaii is not only a sought-out tourist destination, but also home to thousands of people who work on Haida Gwaii, own businesses, attend schools and enjoy recreational activities. Ensuring access to high-speed internet improves the lives and experiences of residents and all of those who are visiting.”

Learn More:

Connecting Communities – Haida Gwaii: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=petLyeqgpJo

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

Connecting Communities BC: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc/20601

StrongerBC: Good lives in Strong Communities: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Good-Lives-Strong-Communities-2023.pdf

StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/economic-plan/ 

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