March 27, 2015

Book Chapters & Journal Articles

The publications below are from the research project, First Nations Innovation. Our publications since 2010 have followed a Publications Policy that was updated in 2013.

Click on this link to access all the First Nations Innovation publications. The publications below are journal articles and book chapters. You can read the abstract and download the publication by clicking on the link in the reference.

Publication #91

Reference: Beaton, B., Seibel, F., Thomas, L. (2017). Digital technology adoption in resilient remote First Nations. In Brinklow, Laurie, Gibson, Ryan (eds.). From Black Horses to White Steeds: Building Community Resilience. Charlottetown, Canada: Island Studies Press at UPEI. 86-108.

Abstract: Our chapter explores how remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario are using digital technologies to create and support their social enterprises. We establish the link between digital infrastructure, social enterprises and resilient Indigenous communities in Canada. Out of necessity caused by scarce resources, the communities are challenging contemporary colonialism with their effective use of digital technologies to support their local social economy. Our analysis in part is based on a 2014 online community questionnaire that provides insights into the nature of the social economy in these unique remote communities and how their use of digital technologies is evolving as their local economy matures.


Publication #90

Reference: McMahon, R., Smith, T.J, Whiteduck, T. (2017). Reclaiming Geospatial Data and GIS Design for Indigenous-led Telecommunications Policy Advocacy. Journal of Information Policy, 7(1).

Abstract: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are important advocacy tools adopted by a range of users. However, without the means to reshape such platforms, reclaim the geospatial data they utilize, and generate the visualizations they produce, the increasing adoption of these resources threatens to disempower some users. In this paper we argue that the processes used to design such tools must transparently reflect these considerations. We ground this argument in a case study of a regulatory hearing on telecommunications infrastructure and services in Canada, and introduce a freely available online resource that documents our GIS design workflow in more detail.


Publication #89

Reference: McMahon, R., Hudson, H.E. & Fabian, L. (2017). Canada’s Northern Communication Policies: The Role of Aboriginal Organizations. in N. Mulé & G. DeSantis (eds.), The Shifting Terrain: Public Policy Advocacy in Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 259-292.

Abstract: In this chapter, we examine how various institutions and policies have shaped the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Canada’s northern regions. We also outline how Aboriginal non-profits have mobilized to advance policy and regulatory reforms. This activity often arises from conditions of scarcity, reflecting this anthology’s consideration of social justice as encompassing full and equitable participation among all citizens in society. Bringing reliable ICT infrastructures and services to the remote and sparsely populated North presents both technological and financial challenges. In these regions, the market alone cannot support the development and ongoing operations of ICT resources that support core public services and economic development initiatives. But over the past four decades, the activities of Indigenous and northern residents not only supported ICT development, but also led to the formation of non-profit ventures that contributed to that process in significant ways. These actors have worked to shape public policies in ways that govern the development of ICT infrastructures and services to provide a basis for long-term economic and community development.


Publication #88

Reference: McMahon, R., Whiteduck, T., Chasle, A., Chief, S., Polson, L. & Rodgers, H., (2017). Indigenizing digital literacies: Community informatics research with the Algonquin First Nations of Timiskaming and Long Point. Engaged Scholar Journal 2(1).

Abstract: Community-engaged digital literacies initiatives can greatly benefit from knowledge and practices developed by Indigenous peoples. In this paper, we describe a research project to develop digital literacies with two Algonquin First Nations in Quebec: Timiskaming and Long Point. This project reflects a First Mile approach to Community Informatics, informed by the theoretical framework of Indigenous resurgence and by engaged research methodologies. In telecommunications and broadband terminology, communities are typically framed as the ‘last mile’ of development. The First Mile approach challenges this situation by encouraging projects that emerge from the locally determined needs of collaborating communities, who gain ownership and control of processes and outcomes. Drawing on community-engaged research methodologies, university-based researchers facilitate this work while community-based researchers integrate data collection, analysis, and public outreach activities into the lived realities of community members.


Publication #87

Reference: Beaton, B., Perley, D., George, C. & O’Donnell, S. (2017). Engaging Remote Indigenous Communities Using Appropriate Online Research Methods. In N. Fielding, R. M. Lee & G. Blank (eds.), The Sage handbook of online research methods – 2nd edition, Sage. London, UK. Pages 563-577.

Abstract: Most people in Canada live in urban centres near the southern border with the United States. The Canadian north is dotted with small, remote, politically autonomous Indigenous communities. For millennia, the people and their ancestors have lived here surviving as hunters and gatherers with strong connections to the land and all that it provides. It is only since European colonization that they are living on small reserve lands with limited access to the resources needed to develop their communities. There is an ongoing need for respectful and collaborative research in partnership with remote Indigenous communities that supports their efforts to survive and thrive in their traditional homelands. In many northern areas there are no permanent roads and expensive flights on small planes are the only way to reach the small communities. Researchers, based in southern urban universities, have limited time and funds. Using online tools and online methods of conducting research is a requirement in this context. Finding ways to conduct appropriate and respectful online research with remote Indigenous communities is the focus of our proposed chapter.


Publication #83

Reference: O’Donnell, S. & Perley, D. (2016) Toward a Sociology of the Reconciliation of Conflicting Desires (2016). Canadian Review of Sociology. 54(4) 474-481.

Abstract: Desire-based research provides people and communities the opportunity to share their dreams and hopes for a better future. However conflicting desires are difficult to reconcile. We suggest that sociological research to understand conflicting desires is required to support reconciliation work by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Our contribution begins by identifying much of current and past sociological research about Indigenous people and communities as damaged-centred, i.e. identifying problems and obstacles in the hope that the knowledge will lead to change. This model of social change is flawed. We believe that most Canadians desire justice for Indigenous peoples while at the same time desiring land and access to resources, desires that deny that justice. How we as a society reconcile these desires will determine the extent to which true justice for Indigenous peoples will be achieved. We propose a sociology of the reconciliation of conflicting desires and suggest some practical ways that this type of research could move forward.


Publication #81

Reference: Julian, A. & Denny, I. (2016). Kina’muanej Knjanjiji’naq mut ntakotmnew tli’lnu’ltik (In the Foreign Language, Let us Teach our Children not to be Ashamed of Being Mi’kmaq). In Education 22(1), 148-160.

Abstract: Colonialism has assimilated and suppressed Indigenous languages across Turtle Island (North America). A resurgence of language is needed for First Nation learners and educators and this resurgence is required if Indigenous people are going to revitalize, recover and reclaim Indigenous languages. The existing actions occurring within Indigenous communities contributing to language resurgence include immersion schools. Eskasoni First Nation opened its doors in September 2015 to a full immersion school separate from the English speaking educational centers. This move follows the introduction of Mi’kmaq immersion over ten years earlier within the English speaking school in the community. The Mi’kmaw immersion school includes the Ta’n L’nuey Etl-mawlukwatmumk Mi’kmaw Curriculum Development Centre that assists educators in translating educational curriculum from the dominant English language to Mi’kmaq. In this paper, stories are shared about the Eskasoni immersion program’s actions towards language resurgence through a desire-based lens, based on rich narratives from three Mi’kmaw immersion educators.


Publication #80

Reference: Beaton, B. & Carpenter, P. (2016). Digital Technology Innovations in Education in Remote First Nations. In Education, 22(1), 42-60.

Abstract: Using a critical settler colonialism lens, we explore how digital technologies are being used for new education opportunities and First Nation control of these processes in remote First Nations. Decolonization is about traditional lands and creating the conditions necessary so Indigenous people can live sustainably in their territories (Simpson, 2014; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Remote First Nations across Canada face considerable challenges related to accessing quality adult education programs in their communities. Our study, conducted in partnership with the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute, explores how community members living in remote First Nations in orthwestern Ontario are using digital technologies for informal and formal learning experiences. We conducted an online survey in early 2014, including open-ended questions to ensure the community members’ voices were heard. The critical analysis relates the findings to the ongoing project of decolonization, and in particular, how new educational opportunities supported by digital technology enable community members to remain in their communities if they choose to, close to their traditional lands.


Publication #78

Reference: Beaton, B. & Carpenter, P. (2015). Creating appropriate participatory action research with remote First Nations. Antistasis, 5(2).

Abstract: Developing participatory action research strategies involves the inclusion of all the partners throughout the entire process, from the birth of the idea to the return of the results to the First Nation. Beginning in the fall of 2013, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI) and the KO First Nations worked with research partners at the University of New Brunswick to develop and deliver an online survey. The survey of KO First Nations gathered information about their use of digital technologies and local programs using these tools. This article describes the entire research methodology successfully used to develop, collect and produce reports for use by the researchers and the First Nations.


Publication #77

Reference: Beaton, B., Burnard, T., Linden, A. & O’Donnell, S. (2015). Keewaytinook mobile: An Indigenous community-owned mobile phone service in northern Canada. In L. Dyson, S. Grant & M. Hendriks (eds.), Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies, Routledge. Sydney, Australia, 109-124.

Abstract: This chapter traces the development of the Keewaytinook Mobile (KMobile) service in northern Ontario, Canada. Keewaytinook Okimakanak’s (KO) Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET) Services supports many services requiring broadband infrastructure, including the Keewaytinook Mobile (KMobile) cellular service. The KMobile operations model is for partner First Nations to develop, own and operate local mobile services in partnership with KO-KNET. The community-based KMobile development occurs in the face of extreme challenges including geographical, technical challenges; small, dispersed populations; colonial federal policies; and social and organizational restraints. KMobile is a welcome service addressing critical safety and development requirements facing every remote community.


Publication #76

Reference: McMahon, R., Whiteduck, T., & Timiskaming First Nation (2015). First Mile Methodologies in Community Informatics Research: Learning from First Nations (Notes from the Field), Journal of Community Informatics 11(3).

Abstract: How can Indigenous research methodologies inform Community Informatics? In this paper we reflect on this question by considering the problematic history of researcher-Indigenous relations before exploring some innovative approaches. Applications of these research tools must emerge during the course of a project to ensure they meet the contexts and needs of community and university partners. Examples from an ongoing research partnership, the First Nations Innovation (FNI) project, show how this ‘First Mile’ work can support Community Informatics research more generally.


Publication #75

Reference: McMahon, R., LaHache, T., & Whiteduck, T. (2015). Digital data management as Indigenous resurgence in Kahnawà:ke. International Indigenous Policy Journal 6(3).

Abstract: Indigenous peoples are addressing the ongoing impacts of settler colonialism through a variety of expressions of community resurgence. Among these initiatives are those leveraging digital technologies. In the emergent network society, digital infrastructures, and information and communication technologies are powerful tools that can support self-government. In this context, we document the development of digital data management in the Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke. Data is the digital information generated by a community, encompassing areas like research, education, finance, health, membership, housing, lands, and resources. As self-determining political entities, each First Nation determines how this data is interpreted and used, supported by tools like data management platforms and information-sharing protocols. In this article, we show how local practices regarding the collection, use, and sharing of digital data in Kahnawà:ke provides a clear example of Indigenous resurgence.


Publication #73

Reference: Molyneaux, H., O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan,C., Walmark, B., Budka, P., Gibson, K. (2014) Social Media in Remote First Nation CommunitiesCanadian Journal of Communication 39(2) 275-288.

Abstract: Community resilience in First Nations includes ties to people both inside and outside the community, intergenerational communication, sharing of stories, and family and community connectedness. This study, based on a survey of internet users in the Sioux Lookout region of Northwestern Ontario, explores the link between social networking sites (SNS) and community resilience. The region is home to some of the most isolated First Nation (indigenous) communities in Canada. Cultural and familial links between these communities are strong, yet until the fairly recent widespread use of the internet, maintaining regular communications to strengthen cultural ties was challenging. This study examines the links between travel and communication online, how social media is used to preserve culture and maintain communication, and the implications of social networking for community resilience.


Publication #71

Reference: McMahon, R., Gurstein, M., Beaton, B., O’Donnell, S., Whiteduck, T. (2014) Making Information Technologies Work at the End of the RoadJournal of Information Policy 4, 250-269.

Abstract: Marginalized remote and rural areas face many challenges, including the provision of telecommunications services. Regardless of universal service policies or other political promises, rural communities can be deemed unprofitable by service providers while government assistance is managed by faraway regulators who lack understanding of the affected communities and citizens. The authors assess these challenges in the context of the First Nations of Canada, via a decentralized “First Mile” framework. They find that these remote communities are capable of local innovation and can collaborate with intermediary organizations to build digital infrastructures, by bridging the gap between the public and private sectors.


Publication #70

Reference: McMahon, R., Hudson, H., Fabian, L. (2014) Indigenous Regulatory Advocacy in Canada’s Far North: Mobilizing the First Mile Connectivity Consortium. Journal of Information Policy 4, 228-249.

Abstract: Marginalized groups such as Indigenous communities and residents of remote and rural areas face daunting challenges as they attempt to influence regulatory decision making. Can these under-resourced groups hope to have their voices heard in regulatory proceedings, in the face of well-funded corporate interests? Applying a participatory research method to regulatory hearings regarding telecommunications services in Canada’s far north, the authors argue that they can, and identify specific strategies and tactics that they can employ when doing so.


Publication #67

Reference: McMahon, R., Philpot, D., O’Donnell, S., Beaton, B., Whiteduck, T., Burton, K., Gurstein, M. (2014) Introduction to the Special Issue: The First Mile of Broadband Connectivity in Communities. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: This special issue of the Journal of Community Informatics profiles First Mile projects and efforts that are as innovative, unique and vibrant as the communities from which they emerge. Several contributions in this issue deal with Canadian cases and others with remote and rural contexts around the world. “First Mile” refers to broadband infrastructure development that puts the needs of local communities first and ahead of the needs of private sector telecommunication corporations. Around the world, broadband infrastructure and networks are rapidly being developed in communities marginalized in the network society. The relationships, structures and agreements put into place at this early development stage will shape how broadband systems are created and managed in the future. First Mile strategies include developing locally owned and managed telecommunication structures and networks


Publication #66 

Reference: Kakekaspan, M., O’Donnell, S., Beaton, B., Walmark, B., Gibson, K. (2014) The First Mile Approach to Community Services in Fort Severn First Nation. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Fort Severn Washaho Cree Nation is a small, remote northern community on the Severn River near Hudson Bay in Ontario. The community services delivered in Fort Severn are managed and controlled by the local leadership, working in collaboration with their regional tribal council Keewaytinook Okimakanak and other strategic partners. The First Mile is both an emerging policy approach and a framework that supports holistic and community-centred broadband development and use by First Nations. First Mile focuses on community management and control of local broadband infrastructure and services. The article discusses how Fort Severn First Nation is putting First Mile concepts into action.


Publication #65 

Reference: Whiteduck, T., Beaton, B. (2014) Building First Nation Owned and Managed Fibre Networks across Quebec. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: In Canada, small rural and remote communities continue to struggle to access equitable and affordable high speed internet connections that address local priorities and needs. The First Nations Education Council (FNEC) is working with their community partners across Quebec to plan and operate a First Nation owned and managed fibre network to deliver broadband connections throughout each community. Public and private partnerships were established by FNEC to fund and construct the regional and local networks connecting these rural and remote communities. The paper describes the history of this development along with its future goals. Sharing infrastructure and network support services with all the other service providers (health, education, administration, justice, policing, homes, etc.) in each of these communities helps to sustain the ongoing operation and maintenance of the network.


Publication #64 

Reference: Beaton, B., Campbell, P. (2014) Settler Colonialism and First Nations e-Communities in Northwestern OntarioJournal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Across Canada First Nation community leaders are adopting the e-Community approach for their local broadband development. E-Community is fueled by the desire of First Nations to own, control, and manage their local infrastructure and online services. The article develops the concept of the importance of locally owned and managed telecommunication infrastructure supporting First Nation e-Community and local resilience. The First Nations e-Community framework provides choices for local people to remain in their communities and contribute to the growth and positive development in these challenging environments. The First Nations’ struggle against settler colonialism to access their lands and resources by the colonial governments and their corporate partners continues today. Strong, resilient First Nations are now in a position to influence and support outcomes that benefit themselves, the lands and others in a positive manner.


Publication #63

Reference: McMahon, R., Mangiok, T. (2014) From the First Mile to Outer Space: Tamaani Satellite Internet in Northern QuebecJournal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Across Canada, discrepancies of access to broadband exist between urban centres and rural and remote Aboriginal communities. Government, public and private sector organizations are partnering to address these digital divides. Some employ a ‘First Mile’ approach that foregrounds how community-based institutions are driving development. This article provides a First Mile case study from the Inuit territory of Nunavik. We describe the cultural, social and political contexts the people of Nunavik and their government navigated to establish broadband in the region’s 14 northern villages. The Kativik Regional Government is building and administering infrastructure that delivers public services and encourages economic development, balancing centralized efficiencies with the needs of residents in villages like Ivujivik.

Note: This article, led by First Nations Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow Rob McMahon, is based on his PhD thesis research at Simon Fraser University and was supported by a PhD scholarship from SFU. Rob’s full thesis can be accessed from this link:


Publication #62 

Reference: Whiteduck, G., Tenasco, A., O’Donnell, S., Whiteduck, T., Lockhart, E. (2014) Developing an e-Community Approach to Community Services in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation is a leader in community and social services. This rural First Nation – the largest Algonquin community in Canada – has since 1980 successfully supported community members to take ownership of service development and delivery. They have made many services and programs available to community members, including: an elementary and secondary school, a day-care, a community hall, a community radio, a health centre, a police department, a youth centre, and others. Their community services are led and staffed by fully trained and qualified community members. As computers, broadband internet and cellular services have become available in Kitigan Zibi, the service sectors have been integrating these technologies with a goal of improving services for and communications with community members. However they face many challenges in their efforts to remain innovative and plan for future delivery of services using technologies. Our study, based on qualitative analysis from interviews with 14 community services staff in Kitigan Zibi, will explore their current successes, challenges, and future potential for integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) into services that promote community and social development. The analysis discusses the eCommunity approach advocated by the Assembly of First Nations.


Publication #61 

Reference: Philpot, D., Beaton, B., Whiteduck, T. (2014) First Mile Challenges to Last Mile Rhetoric: Exploring the Discourse between Remote and Rural First Nations and the Telecom Industry. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Solving Canada’s digital divide remains a significant issue, particularly considering how broadband networks have an impact on remote and rural areas politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Attached to this, as well, are the politics of the historical relationship between remote and rural First Nation communities, corporations, and the government. The way in which the relationship between remote and rural First Nations, the federal and provincial governments, and the telecommunications industries is reproduced is largely through discursive means. One of the consequences of this is that many outsiders to this issue are largely misinformed through documents and press releases. These documents frame remote and rural First Nations as helpless and dependent upon government and telecom industry intervention in order to secure their dependence upon their services. We argue that this is another form of political colonialism; a form of colonialism which seeks to create dependence upon the service economy for its own survival. In this article, we examine the discourse surrounding the issue of remote and rural broadband connectivity as a means of exploring the reproduction of established narratives of First Nations dependence upon aid and service.


Publication #60

Reference: Lockhart, E., Tenasco, A., Whiteduck, T., O’Donnell, S. (2014) Information and Communication Technology for Education in an Algonquin First Nation in Quebec. Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (2).

Abstract: Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation is an innovative rural community in Quebec. Located 130 kilometers north of Ottawa, it is the closest First Nation to the Canadian capital. In both population and territory, Kitigan Zibi is the largest of the ten Algonquin communities. Broadband connectivity and information and communication technologies (ICT) are important to the community and incorporated into everyday operations. This paper explores the use of technology in the education sector in Kitigan Zibi, in particular the situation of having technology readily available at school and less so at home. This transition from a technology-filled classroom to limited or no ICT access at home is a challenge, not only for individual students and their families but also for the community as a whole.


Publication #59 

Reference: Simon, J., Burton, K., Lockhart, E. & O’Donnell, S. (2014) Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada. The International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning. 1(15), 1-19.

Abstract: Post-secondary distance education gives students and their families living in remote and rural regions the option to stay in their communities while they study instead of moving closer to the universities in cities. Post-secondary distance education is an option in many rural and remote First Nation (Indigenous) communities in Canada; however there are many challenges to successful adoption in these communities. There are also many opportunities for post-secondary institutions to expand their abilities and capacity in developing and delivering appropriate content supporting these unique, self-governing environments in Canada. We explore the experiences of students from a rural First Nation in Canada with post-secondary distance education, focusing on how different delivery methods offer both opportunities and challenges for community-based students. The study is situated in the context of contemporary colonialism in Canada.


Publication #58 

Reference: Gray-McKay, C., Gibson, K., O’Donnell, S., People of Mishkeegogamang (2014) An Inquiry into Community Members’ Use and Attitudes toward Technology in Mishkeegogamang Tepacimowin Networks. The Journal of Community Informatics, 10 (1).

Abstract: Mishkeegogamang First Nation is a rural Ojibway community in Northwestern Ontario. Mishkeegogamang community members of all ages use a wide array of information and communication technologies (ICT) as tools in daily life, and as a means to support individual and community goals. This collaborative paper tells the story of how Mishkeegogamang uses ICT for community development, drawing on 17 interviews with community members, and several community member profiles. A basic descriptive quantitative analysis is also provided, giving information on frequency of use of a wide variety of technologies. Community informatics theory guides the interpretation of the findings. A broad range of ICT use by community members is explored, including the Mishkeegogamang website, the busy yet invisible use of social networking sites, youth and ICT, ICT for health and education, and ICT to support traditional activities. Finally, a section on challenges and needs for facilitating ICT use is also provided.


Publication #57 

Reference:Carpenter, P., Gibson, K., Kakekaspan, C., & O’Donnell, S. (2013). How Women in Remote and Rural First Nation Communities are Using Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). In W. Ashton & A. S. Carson (Eds.), . The Journal of Rural and Community Development, 8(2), 79-97.

Abstract : First Nations women have a strong role guiding the success of their family and their community. In the past, women nurtured their family, ensuring their food and safety. These responsibilities are still true today with the added challenges and opportunities of modern day life. In Northern Ontario, many remote and rural First Nation communities are connected to integral services via broadband. The current study explores how First Nations women are using information and communication technology (ICT) and if the technology can address some of their challenges and open up new opportunities. Two hundred and thirty one women living in remote and rural First Nation communities in Northern Ontario completed an online survey, sharing their thoughts and experiences with regard to: ICT use in daily life, ICT for health and wellness, ICT for cultural preservation, and what is needed to support their effective use of ICT. The findings suggest that the women in these remote communities are active users of ICT, using the internet for frequent communication with people living in their own communities along with other communities and elsewhere in Canada. The women are also familiar with telemedicine, use the internet in a variety of ways to preserve their culture, and identified many strategies for supporting their effective use of ICT. Finally, we explore a case-study of how women in Slate Falls First Nation are using ICT.


Publication #50 

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Johnson, L., Katepetum-Schultz, T., Burton, K., Whiteduck, T., Mason, R., Beaton, B., McMahon, R., Gibson, K. (2013) Videoconferencing for First Nations Community-Controlled Education, Health and Development. The Electronic Journal of Communication. 23 (1&2)

Abstract : Videoconferencing is a powerful tool that First Nations in Canada are using to create communication spaces for local control of community services and community development. For First Nations in Canada, videoconferencing sessions are alternative public spheres for engagement and interaction outside of mainstream control. This article discusses how First Nations are using videoconferencing to create and support community-controlled education and training, health services, and other community development activities. Perspectives of a videoconferencing bridge coordinator and a case study from Keewaywin First Nation are discussed.Challenges for videoconferencing in First Nations are reviewed, followed by some thoughts about the future of videoconferencing in these unique communities.


Publication #37 

Reference: Gibson, K., Kakekaspan, M., Kakekaspan, G., O’Donnell, S., Walmark, B., Beaton, B., and the People of Fort Severn First Nation (2012) A History of Communication by Fort Severn First Nation Community Members: From Hand Deliveries to Virtual Pokes. Proceedings of the iConference 2012, Toronto, Ontario, February.

Abstract: Fort Severn Washaho Cree Nation is the most northern community in Ontario. Without road access for most of the year, Fort Severn community members have always found innovative and useful ways to communicate and share information. This paper traces the history of everyday communications from the pre-analogue era to the current day. The focus is on how Fort Severn community members communicate and use technology in a community-centered and holistic way. Information was gathered for this paper over the course of three visits to the community and 59 interviews with Fort Severn community members. Community members reflect on their history of communications, and their current use of a broad range of technologies that use broadband. Critical thinking about technology use, and what is needed to support continued innovative and community-centered use, are explored.


Publication #36 

Reference: McMahon, R.,O’Donnell, S., Smith, R., Walmark, B., Beaton, B., Simmonds, J. (2011). Digital Divides and the ‘First Mile’: Framing First Nations Broadband Development in Canada. The International Indigenous Policy Journal,2(2).

This article was produced by the First Mile project, a collaboration led by Simon Fraser University. Across Canada, rural and remote First Nations face a significant ‘digital divide’. As self-determining autonomous nations in Canada, these communities are building broadband systems to deliver public services to their members and residents. To address this challenge, First Nations are working towards a variety of innovative, locally driven broadband development initiatives. This paper contributes a theoretical discussion that frames our understanding of these initiatives by drawing on the paradigm of the ‘First Mile’. We argue that broadband development policy in Canada must be re-framed to address the specific needs of First Nations. The First Mile position foregrounds community-based involvement, control, and ownership: a consideration we suggest has particular resonance for First Nations. This is because it holds potential to move beyond the historical context of paternalistic, colonial-derived development policies, in the context of broadband systems development. We argue First Nations broadband projects offer on-the-ground examples of a First Mile approach, and call for more research in this area.


Publication #34 

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan, G., Beaton, B., Walmark, B., Mason, R., Mak, M. (2011) A New Remote Community-Owned Wireless Communication Service: Fort Severn First Nation Builds Their Local Cellular System with Keewaytinook Mobile. Canadian Journal of Communication, 36 (4) 663-673.

Abstract: Fort Severn First Nation is a remote fly-in community on Hudson Bay. The lifestyle reflects a deep respect for and connection to the land. The Keewaytinook Okimakinak (KO) Tribal Council has developed the Keewaytinook Mobile (KM) service in remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. In November 2009, Fort Severn and KO established the KM service in the community. This study traces the history of KM and its implementation in Fort Severn and describes how and why community members are using the service. The analysis is based on interviews and discussions with community members during three research visits from March 2010 to March 2011.

This publication is also available in French #34-F.


Publication #32 

Reference: Gibson,K., Coulson, H., Kakepetum-Schultz, T., O’Donnell, S. (2011) Mental health professionals’ perspectives of telemental health with remote and rural First Nations communitiesJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare 2011; 17: 263–267.

Abstract: We conducted an online survey and interviews of mental health workers in Canada who reported experience in working with rural and remote First Nations (although not necessarily telemental health). Sixty-three respondents (of the 164) to the online survey reported experience in working with clients in remote and rural First Nations. Only 16 of the online survey respondents with remote and rural First Nations experience reported having received training in videoconferencing use. A quantitative data analysis was used to explore their perceptions of usefulness and ease of use of telemental health, as well as the relationships among these constructs. Advantages, disadvantages and challenges in using the technology were identified from the qualitative data. Promising ways forward include incorporating traditional practices and the Seven Teachings into telemental health services.

This publication is also available in French #32-F.


Publication #31 

Reference: Gibson KL, Coulson H, Miles R, Kakekakekung C, Daniels E, O’Donnell S. Conversations on telemental health: listening to remote and rural First Nations communities. Rural and Remote Health 11 (online), 2011: 1656.

Abstract: Telemental health involves technologies such as videoconferencing to deliver mental health services and education, and to connect individuals and communities for healing and health. In remote and rural First Nations communities there are often challenges to obtaining mental healthcare in the community and to working with external mental health workers. Telemental health is a service approach and tool that can address some of these challenges and potentially support First Nations communities in their goal of improving mental health and wellbeing. Community members’ perspectives on the usefulness and appropriateness of telemental health can greatly influence the level of engagement with the service. It appears that no research or literature exists on First Nations community members’ perspectives on telemental health, or even on community perspectives on the broader area of technologies for mental health services. Therefore, this article explores the perspectives on telemental health of community members living in two rural and remote First Nations communities in Ontario, Canada.

This publication is also available in French #31-F.


Publication #28 

Reference: Gratton, M-F., O’Donnell, S. (2011) Communication Technologies for Focus Groups with Remote Communities: A Case Study of Research with First Nations in Canada. Qualitative Research. 11(2): 159-175.

Abstract: Communication technologies offer qualitative researchers more options for conducting research with remote communities. It is not always possible for researchers to travel to conduct focus groups and interviews in person, especially when travel is prohibitively time-consuming and expensive. This reason is often given to explain the lack of qualitative research with participants living in remote First Nations (Aboriginal) communities in Canada. This manuscript presents a case study of a research method developed in collaboration with our research partner K-Net and KORI (Keewaytinook Okimakanak) in northwestern Ontario. The specific study investigated preferences for online health information for First Nations people living in remote communities. Working with K-Net, we developed a method to use multi-site videoconferencing for focus groups – live visual and audio exchange between the researcher inOttawa and participants in multiple remote First Nations communities. Our conclusion encourages other researchers to try this innovative method to include more remote First Nations community members in participatory research projects.
This publication is also available in French #28-F.


Publication #22 

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Walmark, B., Hancock, B-R. (2010) Videoconferencing and Remote and Rural First Nations, in White, J., Peters, J., Beavon, D., Dinsdale, P. (eds) Aboriginal Policy Research Volume 6: Learning, Technology and Traditions. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing: 128-139.

Abstract: This article explores why visual communication is important for First Nations, the prevalence and purposes of videoconferencing in non-institutional settings, and the challenges the communities experience using this technology. The central theme is that videoconferencing is a vital tool for remote and rural First Nations and in order for it to become widely used, the technology has to be a part of everyday life in communities and not just restricted to telehealth and distance education.

This publication is also available in French #22-F.


Publication #21

Reference: McKelvey, F., O’Donnell, S. (2009) Out from the Edges: Multi-site Videoconferencing as a Public Sphere in First NationsJournal of Community Informatics 5(2).

Abstract: This study uses video analysis and semi-structured interviews to describe a case of community use of multi-site videoconferencing. The event in 2007 connected a number of First Nation communities across Canada for simultaneous audio-visual exchange. The meeting was hosted by K-Net Services in Ontario. The research project VideoCom organized the event to study the feasibility of public meetings through videoconferencing and to document an example of community uses of the technology. Our report suggests videoconferencing creates a public sphere in these First Nations communities. K-Net Services works to develop their videoconferencing infrastructure to better support this public space. The public sphere is way of thinking about how media practices have a political effect and how they contribute to the well-being of the community. The case meeting shows a potential new opportunity to further integrate videoconferencing into community development.

This publication is also available in French #21-F.


Publication #20 

Reference: Milliken, M., O’Donnell, S., Gorman, E. (2009) How K-Net and Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk are using videoconferencing for community development. Journal of Community Informatics 5(2).

Abstract: K-Net, Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk in Membertou, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and the First Nation Education Council in Wendake, Quebec initially set up videoconferencing networks for educational and health purposes. Since the mid-90s, the applications, reach and scope of these communication networks has expanded to include cultural, social, and community development activities. Interviews with the technical and administrative staff reveal how the relationship-building approach taken by of K-Net and Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk supports community development in the First Nations communities they serve.

This publication is also available in French #20-F.


Publication #19 

Reference: Perley, S. (2009) Representation and Participation of First Nations Women in Online Videos. Journal of Community Informatics 5(1).

Abstract: With the rise in websites for video sharing on the Internet and the increase in resources to create and upload videos, there is potential for First Nations women to make use of this alternate public sphere for representing issues they cannot normally address through mainstream media. A critical analysis of the representation and participation of First Nations women in online videos provides some insight into how First Nations women are currently using new information and communication technologies to question and challenge mainstream media assumptions and representations of First Nations women. The article explores the potential of online videos produced by First Nations women to provide an alternate public sphere to represent themselves and their perspectives and promote social change.

This publication is also available in French #19-F.


Publication #15 

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Perley, S., Walmark, B., Burton, K., Beaton, B., and Sark, A. (2009) Community Based Broadband Organizations and Video Communications for Remote and Rural First Nations in Canada. In Stillman, L., Johanson, G., and French, R., editors, Communities in Action. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 107-119.

Abstract: This research demonstrates how two community-based First Nations’ organizations use video communications on broadband networks to support socio-economic development. This study situates K-Net and the Atlantic Help Desk within a broader social movement, working toward self-determination for First Nations in Canada, through the use of video communications. Video communications within broadband networks include videoconferences (live and archived) and online videos. The research methodology includes an analysis of hundreds of videoconferences and videos archived by the two organizations as well as interviews with key informants.

This publication is also available in French # 15-F.


Publication #14 

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Perley, S., Simms, D., Hancock, B-R. (2009) Video Communication Roadblocks Facing Remote Indigenous Communities. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. 28 (2) Summer. pp 16-22.

Abstract: For Canada’s remote and rural communities, video communications provide a vital lifeline. This article discusses the challenges for video communications in remote and rural First Nation (Indigenous) communities. Central to our analysis are social and technical issues as well as the ICT experiences of community-based organizations and community members. We use an analytical framework to identify challenges in four categories: technical infrastructure, the interactions of the users with the technical infrastructure, the production and reception of audio-visual content, and the organizational and social relations. Our findings underline the need for community capacity building to address these challenges and use video communications to its full potential.

This publication is also available in French #14-F.