Council of Yukon First Nations Videoconferencing Program

Council of Yukon First Nations Logo

Whitehorse – Yukon

Friday, 3 February 2012, 11:56 AM
By Jo-Anne Gatey, Videoconferencing Coordinator, Council of Yukon First Nations

A few years ago the department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) of the Yukon Government (YG) provided each Health Centre in the communities of the Yukon with Telehealth video conferencing. As timely access to appropriate health information is well recognized as an important factor in improving the quality of health services, this access was essential for the isolated, far spread communities as there was (at the time) only one major hospital for the entire Yukon which is situated in its capital city of Whitehorse.

Yukon Map

All of these communities have a large First Nation presence, most are self-governing and all have their own administration offices. Upon studying the success of the Health Centres it was agreed upon to pursue the purchase of this equipment to be installed in the First Nations government buildings also. In 2008 a pilot project was developed between DHSS and Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) to provide video conferencing services to CYFN and three of the outlying communities.

At this time a number of communities indicated they would also be interested in receiving equipment and training. In January of 2010 a Telehealth Coordinator was hired and plans were made to move forward with the final phase of the project and install the units in the remaining eleven communities. To date all fourteen First Nations government offices have video conferencing capabilities.

CYFN splash

This photo is from the Council of Yukon First Nations home page

The original concept for the systems was more focused on improving the quality of health services and helping Yukon First Nations meet their health goals and capacity building challenges, so thus the name Telehealth. However, its use is not limited for health purposes and is helpful for any department in the First Nations governments, for this reason the name Video Conferencing is more appropriate. As the communities were discovering, this is a very powerful tool to improve communications throughout the Yukon as well as a valuable cost and time saving measure.

The First Nations identified the following as potential uses:

  • capacity building;
  • education; and the ability to conduct meetings and interviews

Yukon Territory
Photo of the Yukon Territory from CYFN web page

Some of the uses of video conferencing in the Yukon to date have been:
  • Human Rights in the Workplace and Labor Board presentations;
  • Elder’s meetings;
  • patient visitations with hospitals down South;
  • Pursuit of Excellence Series group meetings;
  • workshops;
  • education sessions;
  • lawyer requested psychiatric assessments for residential school survivors;
  • community development corporation meetings;
  • court testimony;
  • employment interviews;
  • and a number of business meetings and committee & board meetings

Video conferencing requires network access that can insure adequate bandwidth and priority for quality connections. The First Nations facilities are outside the Yukon Government network; therefore, public Internet access is used for connectivity.

Northwestel offers a broadband (ADSL) service to all First Nation locations. This type of network access has been successfully used for video conferencing in many other locations in Canada. Using an IP address, the Yukon can connect to sites outside of the Yukon at no cost to either party.

Find out more

History of the Council of Yukon First Nations
Voices of Vision: A 10-part series of podcast interviews on Yukon Aboriginal Self-Government podcasts
Member Nations of the Council of Yukon First Nations