Indigenous Innovators: Bridging the Digital Divide
In 2016, the CRTC declared Internet access a fundamental right for all Canadians. While this decision is undoubtedly an important step forward, this declaration itself doesn’t bring Internet access or acceptable browsing speeds to the thousands of Canadians around the country - particularly in rural and Northern communities - who are waiting for it. The declaration might be a final answer to the question of whether or not all Canadians deserve Internet access, but at the same time it draws attention to the existing line of questioning around implementation. How can we bring Internet speeds up in isolated Communities? How can we build the infrastructure where it has never been feasible to do so? Is there the political will necessary to bring about these large-scale changes in sparsely populated regions?
Organizations around the country, including the First Nations Technology Council have been fighting for country-wide Internet access for years. Now that the CRTC has brought more legal legitimacy (and thus, political cover) to the arguments that FNTC and others are making on behalf of First Nations Communities, we’re left to wonder what the next step on this path will be. Hopefully we all now agree that Internet access in Canada is a right, but the next step, the next question of how to actually get to country-wide access, is still an open one.
On this episode of Indigenous Innovators, Jordyn our Producer from Animikii, gets the chance to talk in depth about some of these issues of Internet access and technological literacy in Indigenous Communities - particularly as it relates to job creation. Technology jobs in British Columbia are expanding and will continue to do so as we move further towards a knowledge-based economy and no one understands that better than this episode’s main guest, Denise Williams. Denise Williams is the Executive Dire
ctor of the First Nations Technology Council. She is Coast Salish from the Cowichan Tribes here on Vancouver Island but lives and works in Vancouver as the executive Director of the FNTC.
Jordyn and Denise talk about the basic disparities that exist between rural and urban Communities in terms of access to technology. They talk about how these disparities disproportionately impact Indigenous Communities and some of the negative impacts of these disparities. Denise and Jordyn also get to talk about some of the bright lights and opportunities that are becoming more available in these Communities. For example, they talk about FNTC’s growing program, Bridging to Technology, and get into the reasons why these programs are important part of - but not a silver bullet for - closing the digital divide between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in BC.
Later on in the episode, Jordyn gets a chance to talk with Lydia Prince - an Animikii Thunderbird herself - about her experience as a student in FNTC’s first Bridging to Technology cohort and about why she’s chosen a technological career as an Indigenous young person.
This episode, as always, is a part of Animikii’s multimedia Indigenous Innovators series, in which we profile Indigenous leaders, activists, artists and entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges and opportunities Indigenous Peoples face in Canada today. This episode is hosted by Jordyn Hrenyk and produced and edited by Janet Antone. To learn more about FNTC, head to their website, http://www.technologycouncil.ca/, or find them on social media.
Article published August 17, 2017.
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