Congratulations to FMCC member Western James Bay Telecom Network (WJBTN), which received the 2020 DeBeers Indigenous Partnership Award on August 13, 2020! The award is given out by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce each year.
When it was announced that WJBTN had won, a video produced by Louis Noah from Attawapiskat was played. In the pre-taped video, WJBTN President Douglas Kebokee talked about the two separate cultures that we live in and how the internet will make it possible for our cultures to work together and thrive.
“Western James Bay Telecom Networks is a 100% First Nation-owned, not for profit ISP providing fibre internet connectivity to Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany since 2010. In 2014, WJBTN embarked on an ambitious project to bring fibre to the home internet to 1,135 homes in these communities by working in partnership with bands councils, local power authorities, Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, Five Nations Energy Inc., RBC, Wakenagen and Nord-Aski Community Futures Fund, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and Innovation, Science and Economic Development.” (Douglas Kebokee)
“When WJBTN applied for funds for our Fibre to the Home project, we told our federal and provincial partners that they would make their money back many times over. Empowering indigenous ISP’s raises the standard of living in the communities we serve, encourages young professionals to return home, creates jobs, enhances educational opportunities and healthcare outcomes, reduces dependency on social financial supports etc. Canada can not move towards an innovative future without empowering indigenous ISP’s. There is enormous economic potential in our remote and rural First Nations, from the youth especially.” (Dave Cote)