Matawa First Nations get $69.2M to build First Mile fibre-to-the-home network

Thursday, October 5, 2017

MATAWA FIRST NATIONS WELCOME REQUIRED FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL INVESTMENTS TO PROCEED WITH A STATE OF THE ART FIBRE-TO-THE-HOME HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND INTERNET

THUNDER BAY, ON: Matawa First Nations today welcomed funding commitments to assist in bringing state of the art fibre-to-the-home high-speed broadband to internet dead spots in 5 fly-in/remote First Nations as follows:

• $37.1 million announced by The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) through the Connect to Innovate Initiative launched by ISED on December 15, 2016

• $30 million in partner funds from the Government of Ontario announced by The Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North

• $2.14 million from Indigenous and Northern Affairs to conduct an archeological investigation in support of the project announced by The Honourable Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River

The funding will be allocated to Rapid Lynx, a regional telecommunications company established by the Matawa First Nations in January 2017 to build and administer an 881 km fibre-optic cable network connecting the remote communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Webequie, Eabametoong and Marten Falls together and to existing carrier locations near Wunnummin Lake and Aroland First Nations.

Rapid Lynx’s network design and electronics specifications will provide capacity, reliability and speed for today and for the long-term and will be based on the First Mile approach to network infrastructure development which includes local broadband ownership and control over local telecom networks and infrastructure. The First Mile work will ensure every home, business and organization in these 5 First Nations are connected to the community-owned fibre network first.

The construction project will migrate the community-owned networks off the existing satellite-network to the regional-network that will be built as another part of the project. It will be subject to an environmental assessment. Both the construction and operational phases of the project will mean employment for First Nation members across the Matawa region and local businesses that support this work. The announcement comes after 5 years of lobbying and a recent application submitted this past April.

Matawa First Nation Management is a leader in many different development initiatives. Our project management teams construct buildings, roads, water and sewer systems, education and training programs, health services, incubate community-owned development corporations and regional business ventures among others and now, with the support of the federal and provincial governments— is able to build, own and maintain a state-of-the art fibre-optic broadband network through our telecommunications company Rapid Lynx.

QUOTES

“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns. Our First Nation community members will benefit in so many ways. Connectivity is crucial to their well-being. Better services through broadband fibre optic construction will eliminate the digital divide between our First Nations and the rest of the world. It will facilitate greater efficiencies in the delivery of First Nation services, including access to health and education technologies and practices, grants and programs, family and court services, banking and credit services and the gamut of other opportunities that high-speed internet provides.”

— David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management

“In 2012 the United Nations declared access to Internet a basic human right. The Internet is a powerful tool for accelerating knowledge and wealth. Rapid Lynx Telecommunications will design and build the entire network from end-to-end to be a “Next Generation” Fibre-to-the-Home network that will support increased demand, large applications, real-time interactive imaging for telemedicine, modeling and simulation, pre-and post production for high quality video that will meet our First Nations needs. This is truly a transformational, ground-breaking, life-saving and life-changing project for the Matawa communities.”

— Jason Rasevych, Economic Development Advisor, Matawa/Rapid Lynx Representative

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Matawa First Nations Management is a Tribal Council providing a variety of advisory services and programs to 8 Ojibway and Cree First Nations in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and 1 First Nation in the Robinson-Superior Treaty area. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MatawaFNM.

For more information, please contact Carol Audet, Communications Manager – Matawa First Nations at (807) 632-9663 or by email at caudet@matawa.on.ca.

Expanding Broadband Infrastructure in Remote Northern Ontario

Joint Investment to Bring High Speed Internet Access to Matawa First Nations in the Ring of Fire Region

October 6, 2017 – Thunder Bay, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

People living in five Northern Ontario First Nation communities will be able to connect with friends and family across Canada and around the world, and have improved access to distance education, skills training, and new business opportunities, thanks to a joint investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario of up to $69.2 million in the Ring of Fire region.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced Canada will invest up to $37.1 million in the project, through Connect to Innovate, a federal program that allows Canadians in every region of the country to participate fully in the digital economy, by providing remote and underserved communities with Internet access. Connect to Innovate funding will be allocated to Rapid Lynx Telecommunications to install about 880 kilometres of new fibre optic cable to five fly-in communities in Northern Ontario.

Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, announced the Province will invest up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management Inc. to bring modern fibre-optic cable to the area. The project will see the installation of buried cable from Wunnumin Lake through the five Matawa-member communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations, connecting south to Aroland First Nation.

The Government of Canada is also providing $2.1 million for this project through its First Nation Infrastructure Fund through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, a program that helps advance public infrastructure to improve the quality of life and the environment for First Nation communities.

The ministers were joined today in Thunder Bay at the announcement by Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott, Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, of Marten Falls First Nation, Chief Elizabeth Atlookan, Eabametoong First Nation and Chief Wayne Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation.

Quotes

“We’re proud to invest $37.1 million to ensure that high speed Internet is accessible to every Canadian. We know that the internet is no longer a luxury and access is now an essential part of everyday life. Canadians go online to connect with friends and family, for education, health services, entertainment and shopping. Faster Internet connections allow Canadians to get the skills and training they need to qualify for well-paying jobs.””

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“By investing in broadband infrastructure that will bring high speed Internet to Matawa-member First Nations, Ontario will help improve the quality of life of residents by increasing fairness and opportunity for everyone.  Our government recognizes that the availability of high‑speed Internet infrastructure is critical for economic development and access to important resources and services such as health care and education.”

— Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines

“Internet access for all Canadians, no matter where they live, is critical. Projects like this one will enable these five First Nations communities to have greater access to important digital tools, leading to greater educational and economic opportunity, and ultimately stronger communities.”

– The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services

“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns.  Our First Nation community members will benefit in so many ways. Connectivity is crucial to their well-being.  Better services through broadband fibre optic construction will eliminate the digital divide between our First Nations and the rest of the world. It will facilitate greater efficiencies in the delivery of First Nation services, including access to health and education technologies and practices, grants and programs, family and court services, banking and credit services and the gamut of other opportunities that high-speed internet provides.”

– David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management

Quick Facts

  • The $500 million invested under the Government’s Connect to Innovate program focuses on building the digital backbone of high-speed Internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a global and digital world. Connect to Innovate will also fund “last-mile” connections to households that don’t have Internet speeds of at least five megabits per second.
  • Since 2011, Ontario has contributed more than $114 million to help communities and tribal councils prepare for Ring of Fire development opportunities, including skills development, capacity building, community well-being studies, community-based training programs and economic development funding.
  • Ontario’s Mineral Development Strategy is creating modern and progressive business practices to make sure the mineral sector continues to create new opportunities for generations to come.

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