March 14, 2015


The First Nations Innovation Project

Remote and rural First Nation communities are using broadband networks and information and communications technologies (ICT) in many innovative ways – to support e-health, e-learning, e-business, e-administration and many other applications and services. Community members use ICT to access services online and communicate with people everywhere.

A team of First Nation organizations and researchers is studying and celebrating these achievements since 2005. We recognize the value of research to support and develop understanding, evidence-based policy and transformative change. Our research project is now called First Nations Innovation (FNI). Since 2005, our research has been supported by SSHRC and in-kind donations by our research partners.

Click here to access all the FNI publications.

FNI is creating new benefits for Canada by:

  • Sharing and documenting First Nation innovative success stories and best practices with other First Nations, academics and the Canadian public
  • Supporting First Nation ownership, control, access and possession of ICT tools, infrastructure and capacity through appropriate and respectful documentation and presentation of innovative practices by First Nation partners
  • Developing an understanding of how First Nations are using technologies for community, social and economic development
  • Making the links between broadband networks in First Nations and self-determination, treaties, and  national and international policies such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Partner representatives in the First Nations Innovation project are:

  • Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) the Northern Chiefs Council, a tribal council serving First Nations in northwestern Ontario. The contact is Franz Seibel, Research Director of the KO Research Institute:
  • Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk, part of the Mik’maq Kina’matnewey education organization in Nova Scotia, serving all the First Nations in Atlantic Canada. The contact is Kevin Burton, Coordinator of the Help Desk:

The university lead partner is the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Partner universities are Université Laval and the University of Alberta.

Current research staff on the First Nations Innovation project are:

  • Dr. Susan O’Donnell, Primary Investigator, Researcher and Adjunct Professor, UNB Department of Sociology. Contact:
  • David Perley, Co-Investigator, Director of the UNB Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre, Faculty of Education. Contact:
  • Dr. Rob McMahon, Co-Investigator, University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension. Contact:
  • Dr. Renée Fountain, Co-Investigator, Université Laval, Faculty of Education. Contact:
  • Brian Beaton, UNB Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Education, and Associate of the KO Research Institute. Contact: (Brian’s successful proposal to SSHRC for a Doctoral Fellowship Award: Beaton-SSHRC-Research-Proposal)
  • Chris George, UNB M.Phil. (Policy Studies) student. Contact:
  • Martin Bertrand, Laval M.Ed. student, Faculty of Education

University students who previously worked with the First Nations Innovation project:

  • Ashley Julian, UNB M.Ed. (Critical Studies), Faculty of Education (2014-2016)
  • Shaina Peter-Paul, STU Native Studies (2016)
  • Mary Milliken, UNB Ph.D. Sociology (2009-2013)
  • Emily Lockhart, UNB M.A. Sociology (2011-2012)
  • Gene Kondusky, UNB Ph.D. English (2012-2012)
  • Jason Woodman-Simmonds, UNB PhD. English (2011-2012)
  • Tanya Wasacase, UNB Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies (2011-2012)
  • Kerry Gibson, UNB Ph.D. Clinical Psychology (2008-2011)
  • Marie-France Gratton, University of Ottawa, M.A. (2009-2010)
  • Dianne Simms, UNB Ph.D Clinical Psychology (2008-2010)
  • Sonja Perley, UNB M.Ed. (Critical Studies), Faculty of Education (2004-2009)