The First Mile project tells stories of First Nations self-determination in technology development. It aims to follow the principles of OCAP: Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession. OCAP describes four principles that support First Nations self-determination in research: 1) Ownership of information; 2) Control over research and information; 3) Access to research data; and 4) Possession of research data.
In the past, First Nations communities purchased technologies designed and maintained by external organizations. These service providers often come from urban centres with very different circumstances than First Nations. The First Mile project shares stories of how local communities have taken ownership and control of new technologies. These projects put the needs of communities before technical requirements. In a recent paper by members of our First Mile team based on research in Fort Severn First Nation, we suggested how First Nations might apply OCAP to broadband networks:
[We suggest that] OCAP applied to telecommunications, or self-determination applied to broadband networks, has at least two implications. First, that First Nations must retain access and possession of the capacity and resources to effectively manage the content, traffic and services on their local network. Second, that First Nations have a right to own and control the local broadband network in their communities in order to support the flow of information and services.*
*Reference: O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan, M., Beaton, B., Walmark, B., Gibson, K. (2011) How the Washaho Cree Nation at Fort Severn is Using a “First Mile Approach” to Deliver Community Services. Paper presented at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC), George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA, September. Available on the Conference Papers and Proceedings #33 (2011)