March 27, 2015

Conference Papers & Proceedings

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 conference papers and proceedings. (Some of these were later revised for publication in journals and book chapters). From the list below you can read the abstract and download the publication by clicking on the link in the reference.

Publication #82

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Beaton, B., McMahon, R., Hudson, H.E., Williams, D., Whiteduck, T. (2016). Digital Technology Adoption in Remote and Northern Indigenous Communities in Canada. Canadian Sociological Association 2016 Annual Conference. University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, June.

Abstract: This paper is the most comprehensive review and analysis to date of the adoption and use of digital technologies in remote and northern Indigenous communities in Canada. It is based primarily on a literature review, supplemented by personal communications with key informants and the authors’ analysis based on knowledge from extensive research and practical experience in the topic area. We begin by developing a “whole community” approach to understanding how remote Indigenous communities adopt digital technologies for community, social and economic needs. The literature highlights the role of digital technologies in community organizations and services as well as the regional community intermediary organizations that support the development and sustainability of digital technologies and networks in Indigenous communities. The interactions that take place using digital technologies in remote and northern Indigenous communities are central to everyday lives. Our review includes the current understanding of levels of digital technology adoption, how the communities are using digital technologies, and policies and programs to support digital technology adoption in Indigenous communities. Our conclusion highlights the main challenges to digital technology adoption in these unique remote and northern environments.


Publication #74

Reference: Reference: George, C. (2015) Nikma’jtut Apoqnmatultinej: Reclaiming Indigeneity via ancestral wisdom and new ways of thinking. Canadian Sociological Association, University of Ottawa, June.

Abstract: Settler colonialism continues to marginalize and threaten Indigenous epistemology, languages and ways of knowing. This eight week auto-ethnographic study details my use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to deconstruct the epistemological and ontological perspectives I have acquired during my lived experience immersed in settler society. My hope is to gain better insight into Mi’gmaw worldview through an introspective journey to learn my mother’s language thus my own cultural identity.


Publication #72

Reference: McMahon, R., LaHache, T., and Whiteduck, T. (2014). Digital Data Management in Kahnawà:ke. Canadian Sociological Association. Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, May.

Abstract: Indigenous communities are addressing the ongoing impacts of settler colonialism through a variety of expressions of 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 activities. This paper documents the development of digital data management in the Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke. Our study outlines how Kahnawà:ke supports community data management through an enabling environment that includes administration (policies, analysis, supervision), technical architectures (infrastructure, connectivity), data management systems, and personnel.


Publication #69

Reference: Beaton,B., Seibel, F. & Thomas, L. (2014). Valuing the social economy and information and communication technologies (ICT) in small remote First Nations. Association of Social Economy and Non-Profit Research, Brock University, St.Catherines, Ontario, May.

: Remote First Nations (Indigenous communities) in Canada are challenging contemporary colonialism with their effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) supporting their local social economy. Out of necessity caused by scarce resources, the social economy in First Nations uses innovative ICT solutions to support required services, economic opportunities, and sustainable communities. The analysis of a 2014 online survey provides insights into the nature of the social economy in these unique remote communities and how their use of ICT is evolving as their local economy matures. A critical examination of local social enterprises and entrepreneurs through an Indigenous lens supports the resurgence of a healthy Indigenous economy in small, remote communities in Canada’s far north. Emerging from 500 years of oppressive and racist colonial regimes, policies, and attitudes, First Nations remain resilient. They are determined to live their lives with dignity, respect, strength, and determination in their traditional territories.Following the teachings and wisdom found in thousands of years of a rich and vibrant history merged with and supplemented by modern communication tools, First Nations are sharing and protecting all their relationships with their natural environment and others.


Publication #68

Reference: Beaton, B., Carpenter, P. (2014) A critical understanding of adult learning, education and training using information and communication technologies (ICT) in remote First Nations. Canadian Association for Study of Indigenous Education. Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, May.

Abstract: Through a critical settler colonialism lens we explore how information and communication technologies (ICT) supports learning, education and training and First Nation control of these processes in remote communities. The central theme of the current study is that decolonization is about land and creating the conditions necessary so Indigenous peoples have the opportunity to connect with and live sustainably on their traditional territories. Remote First Nations across Canada face considerable challenges and opportunities related to adult learning and quality education and training programs for local citizens. Our study, conducted in partnership with the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) tribal council, explores how community members living in five remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario are using ICT for informal learning and education and training opportunities. KO and the researchers conducted an online survey of residents of the KO First Nations in early 2014 that included many open-ended response questions to ensure the voices of community members are heard. The critical analysis considers how the survey findings relate to the ongoing project of decolonization, and in particular, how these new ICT opportunities support the ability of community members to stay on the land.


Publication #56

Reference: Whiteduck, T., Beaton, B. (2013) Building First Nation Owned and Managed Fibre Networks Across Quebec. World Social Science Forum, Montreal, QC, Canada. October.

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 #55

Reference: McMahon, R., Whiteduck, T., Beaton, B. (2013) Shaping First Nations broadband policy in Canada: Indigenous community intermediary organizations in the age of austerity. World Social Science Forum, Montreal, QC, Canada. October.

Abstract: Politically autonomous First Nations have set up organizations that mediate their relationships with federal and provincial governments. These regional organizations have a broad mandate that includes technology as one component of their work. In this paper, we frame these organizations as ‘community intermediaries’ and demonstrate how one of their functions is to act as a bridge between remote First Nations and various federal and provincial government agencies. These intermediary organizations operate complex digital networks and applications while supporting their First Nation constituents to assert self-determined development goals in a complicated and dynamic multi-stakeholder environment.


Publication #54

Reference: Beaton, B., Campbell, P. (2013) Settler Colonialism and First Nations E-Communities in Northwestern Ontario. World Social Science Forum, Montreal, QC, Canada. October.

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 paper 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 #53

Reference: McMahon, R., Hudson, H., Fabian, L. (2013) Indigenous Broadband Policy Advocacy in Canada’s Far North. The Role of Advocacy in Media and Telecom Policy: A by-invitation experts’ workshop. New America Foundation. Washington, September.

Abstract: In 2012, Canada’s communications regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), initiated a consultation on infrastructure and services in the northern territories. The consultation included the CRTC’s first public hearings in the far North, where remote and sparsely populated communities are currently served by a single terrestrial incumbent and a few satellite operators. A national group of indigenous broadband policy advocates seized on this opportunity to intervene in the broadband development process. The First Mile Connectivity Consortium, a nonprofit coalition of academic researchers and First Nations technology organizations, argued that Aboriginal organizations themselves could provide telecommunications services in many northern communities. This case study demonstrates how research and advocacy can be introduced in regulatory proceedings.


Publication #52

Reference: Philpot, D., O’Donnell, S., Kenny, C. (2013) Face-to-Faces Work: Audience Response to First Nations Social Movement Videos. Canadian Communication Association, University of Victoria, June 5-7.

Abstract: There has been considerable public interest in the role of alternative media in protest movements and social movements in general. Virtually all of the commentary has focused on the production and dissemination of these alternative media forms by social movement actors rather than the reception of these alternative messages by audiences. The current study begins this discussion by applying a critical analysis to the results of an exploratory study of the reception by the general public of online videos about First Nations. The methodology includes an empirical study of how people viewed and responded to two online videos about First Nations culture. Although both our study and analysis is very exploratory we believe it is an important contribution because of the lack of previous research on this topic.


Publication #51

Reference: Gurstein, M., Beaton, B., O’Donnell, S., Whiteduck, T. (2013) Making Information Technologies Work at the End of the Road: Using Broadband to Build Sustainable Remote and Rural Communities. Theory of Broadband: Regulation, Networks and Applications. A By-invitation Experts Workshop, The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia University, New York City, USA. May 30-June 1.

Abstract: In this paper we discuss both how the Internet and broadband networks generally are supporting a centralization of power and also how they have become the basis for a very significant decentralization of power. We document the development of this decentralizing counter-trend within the context of a “first mile” approach to telecommunications – specifically, the case of First Nations (indigenous) people living in small, jurisdictionally autonomous communities in remote parts of Canada. The paper will further examine how a community-based (community informatics) approach to the institutional management of the telecommunications infrastructure and applications has in turn supported and enabled the development of a range of community-based semi-autonomous institutions and services — including in education, health and governance — developed and managed and responding to specific local requirements at the “edge.”


Publication #48

Reference: Carpenter, P., Gibson, K., Kakekaspan, C., O’Donnell, S. (2012). How women in remote and rural First Nation communities are using information and communication technologies. Connecting the Future: Rural Broadband Technology, Policy and Impact. Queens University School of Business, Kingston, Ontario, December.

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 food and safety for their family. These responsibilities are still true today with the added challenges and opportunities of modern day life. After elementary school, many First Nations children living in remote and rural communities move to urban areas for high school education, and with the adoption of information and communication technologies(ICT) there are sometimes fewer community interactions as people stay at home more instead of meeting in person. The study explored how First Nations women are using 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 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. Recommendations for ways forward are discussed.

This paper was revised and published as journal article #57.


Publication #47

Reference: Whiteduck, T.,Beaton, B., Burton, K., & O’Donnell, S. (2012) Democratic Ideals Meet Reality: Developing Locally Owned and Managed Broadband Networks and ICT Services in Rural and Remote First Nations in Quebec and Canada. Keynote paper for the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) Conference, Prato, Italy, November.

Abstract: This paper is based on a keynote presentation at the 2012 Community Informatics Research (CIRN) conference in Prato, Italy by Tim Whiteduck, Technology Director at the First Nations Education Council (FNEC). The paper was co-written with the FNEC research partners. First Nations in Canada are part of a complex web of relationships and networks that share information, resources and learning related to broadband and Information Communication Technologies (ICT). First Nation community leaders, through their national organization the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), have adopted the eCommunity as an overarching approach for broadband development. This development is fueled by the desire by First Nations to own,control, and manage their local infrastructure. Regional organizations, including the regional management organizations (RMOs) for the First Nations SchoolNet program, are key players collaborating with communities to support their use of broadband and ICT. In particular, the videoconferencing network built by the RMOs in collaboration with the communities was and continues to be a catalyst for increased broadband development. FNEC, the RMO for Quebec is discussed in detail, including its technology development and related activities. FNEC works with partner organizations across Canada, notably the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) tribal council in northwestern Ontario and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) in the Atlantic region. Together the three organizations are also partners with the University of New Brunswick and Simon Fraser University on several research and outreach projects, two of which – First Mile and VideoCom / First Nations Innovation- are briefly discussed.


Publication #45

Reference: Molyneaux, H., O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan, C., Walmark,B., Budka, P., Gibson, K. (2012) Community Resilience and Social Media: Remote and Rural First Nations Communities, Social Isolation and Cultural Preservation. Paper for the 2012 International Rural Network Forum, Whyalla and Upper Spencer Gulf, Australia, 24-28 September.

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 and rural First Nations (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 #44

Reference: Whiteduck, G., Tenasco, A., O’Donnell, S., Whiteduck, T. & Lockhart,E. (2012) Broadband-Enabled Community Services in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation: Developing an e-Community Approach. Paper for the 2012 International Rural Network Forum, Whyalla and Upper Spencer Gulf, Australia, 24-28 September.

Abstract: Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, the largest Algonquin community in Canada, is recognized as a leader for their community services. For our collaborative study, we conducted a qualitative analysis of interviews with community services staff in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg.The interviews explored questions of technology and community, including their current successes, challenges, and future potential. Kitigan Zibi is developing a strategy to integrate communication infrastructure and information, and communication technologies (ICT) into services that promote community,economic, social, cultural, and intellectual development. The discussion focuses on how the community can integrate a holistic “e-Community” approach into its strategy.


Publication #43

Reference: Gibson, K., Thomas, L., O’Donnell, S., Lockhart, E., & Beaton, B. (2012). Co-creating community narratives: how researchers are engaging First Nation community members to co-write publications. Paper presented at the Qualitatives Analysis Conference, St. John’s, NL.

Abstract: Researchers working with First Nations have heard: “We have been researched to death.” Given this reputation for research, how can researchers working with First Nations turn this situation around? How can we collaboratively conduct respectful research and engage First Nations meaningfully? How can we ensure that the narratives we weave in research publications from interview transcripts strongly reflect the voices of community members, and that our publications meet the needs of communities? One way is for members of First Nation communities collaborating in the research to co-write research publications. The paper discusses some practical ways that researchers can do this, based on our experiences with conducting research about technology with rural and remote First Nation community collaborators. We discuss what has been successful and where we need to work harder to be more inclusive of the experiences and situations of community members.


Publication #42

Reference: Lockhart, E., Tenasco, A.,Whiteduck, T. & O’Donnell, S. (2012) ICT Use Between School and Home in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation: Challenges and Opportunities for Moving Forward Collectively. Canadian Communication Association Conference, University of Waterloo, Ontario, May 30.

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 #41

Reference: Walmark, B., Gibson, K. Kakekaspan, C., O’Donnell, S., & Beaton, B. (2012). How First Nation Residents in Remote and Rural Communities in Ontario’s Far North are using ICT and Online Services Supported by Keewaytinook Okimakanak. Paper presented at the Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference, University of Waterloo, Ontario, May 30

For the isolated and rural communities in the Sioux Lookout region of Northwestern Ontario, communication links are vital. They connect community members with each other, with members of other communities, and with people living elsewhere in Canada and around the world. Broadband networks support many of the community and social services in this region. Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO), Northern Chiefs in Oji-Cree, is a tribal council supporting and providing broadband-enabled services to many of the region’s remote and rural First Nations. In late 2011, an online survey was conducted of community members in the region. Participants responded to questions about how they are using ICT in their daily lives, how they are using KO’s broadband-enabled services – specifically KO Telemedicine (KOTM) and the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS) – and what supports they need to use these technologies and services more effectively. This paper discusses some of the survey findings.


Publication #40

Reference: Simon, J., Burton, K., Lockhart, E. & O’Donnell, S. (2012) Post-Secondary Distance Education: Experiences of Elsipogtog First Nation Community Members. Presented at the Atlantic Native Teachers Education Conference (ANTEC), Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, May 17 .

Abstract: Post-secondary distance education is an option for community members living in many Atlantic First Nations. This paper includes preliminary results from research based on interviews with community members of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. Most community members interviewed had taken post-secondary courses by distance education while living and working in their community. The focus is their experiences of distance education, in particular with videoconferencing and online web-based course delivery systems.


Publication #33

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, Arlington, Virginia, USA, September.

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 paper discusses how Fort Severn First Nation is putting First Mile concepts into action.


Publication #30

Reference: Gibson, K., Gray-McKay, C., O’Donnell, S., and the People of Mishkeegogamang. (2011). Mishkeegogamang First Nation Community Members Engage with Information and Communication Technologies. Canadian Communication Association Conference, Fredericton, June 1-3.

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. Community informatics theory will help guide the interpretation of the findings. A broad range of ICT use by community members will be 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 #29

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan, G., Walmark, B., Mason, R., Mak, M. (2011) Keewaytinook Mobile in Fort Severn First Nation. Canadian Communication Association Conference, Fredericton, June 1-3.

Abstract: Fort Severn First Nation is a remote fly-in Cree community on Hudson Bay. About 400 people live in the community, and their lifestyle reflects a deep respect for and connection to the land. In November 2009, Fort Severn and its tribal council, Keewaytinook Okimakanak, established Keewaytinook Mobile (KM) service in the community. KM, an innovative community-owned and managed GSM cellular and data service, is an example of self-determination applied to telecommunications. It is also the result of a number of strategic partnerships that came together to address local needs and priorities. This paper includes a review of the history of Keewaytinook Mobile and its implementation in Fort Severn First Nation, and a study of how and why community members are using or not using the service. The analysis is based on interviews with 42 community members conducted in March 2010 and a follow-up discussion with community members in November 2010. The paper discusses the challenges, opportunities and ways forward for KM in Fort Severn.


Publication #25

Reference: Gibson, K., Coulson, H., Miles, R., Kakekayskung, K., Daniels, B., O’Donnell, S. (2010) Listening to the Communities: Perspectives of Remote and Rural First Nations Community Members on Telemental Health. Rural Health: Connecting Research and Policy. Fredericton, Canada, September 23-25.

Summary : 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 there are often challenges both to obtaining mental healthcare within the community and to working with external mental health workers. Telemental health is a service approach that can address some of these challenges and potentially support First Nations in their goal of improving mental health and well-being.

This paper explores the perspectives on telemental health of community members living in two rural and remote First Nations communities in Ontario: Mishkeegogamang and FortSevern. Using a participatory research design, we interviewed 59 community members, asking about their experiences with and thoughts on using technologies and their attitudes toward telemental health specifically. A thematic analysis of this qualitative data, and a descriptive quantitative analysis of the information reveal the diversity of attitudes among community members.


Publication #24

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Milliken, M., Chong, C., Walmark, B. (2010) Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Remote and Rural First Nations Communities: An Overview. Presented at the Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference (CCA 2010) Montreal, June 1-3.

Abstract: Information and communication technologies (ICT) are valuable tools used to establish and maintain connections within and between remote and rural First Nations communities across Canada, and between urban centres and these communities. For the past decade, various research projects have investigated different aspects of ICT use by and with these communities. However, an overview of this research has not been published. This paper, a literature review, explains: the history of ICT and First Nations communities, policies and partnerships for broadband services in First Nations, how remote and rural First Nations are accessing and using ICT, and how to make the broadband networks and ICT sustainable.


Publication #18

Reference: Gibson, K., Kakepetum-Schultz, T., Coulson, H., O’Donnell, S. (2009). Telemental Health with Remote and Rural First Nations: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Ways Forward. National Aboriginal Health Organisation (NAHO) Conference. Ottawa, November 24-27.

Abstract: Remote and rural First Nation communities have limited mental health services compared to urban communities yet their needs are similar and sometimes greater. Community members living in remote, isolated communities requiring mental health services are usually faced with two choices: having no service or leaving their community to access services in larger centres. Certain First Nation communities offer a third choice: using telemental health delivered via videoconferencing to provide clinical mental health services for community members. Like all technology uses, telemental health services have advantages and disadvantages, both for the individual and the community.

Understanding mental health workers’ experiences of telemental health and its benefits and drawbacks for remote and rural First Nations people was the focus of our study. Qualitative data were collected through interviews with mental health professionals (clinicians and nonclinicians) working with First Nations communities. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from a national online survey of mental health workers working with clients in rural and remote First Nations. This paper presents a thematic analysis of the data collected. Advantages include allowing community members to remain within their community for treatment and connecting First Nations trauma survivors to each other; disadvantages include increased difficulty building and maintaining clinical relationships via videoconference and ethical concerns of using the technology. These and other pros and cons of using telemental health are discussed. Certain ways forward that seem promising are proposed, including incorporating traditional practices and the seven teachings into telemental health initiatives. Finally, policy recommendations are offered.


Publication #17

Reference: Molyneaux, H., O’Donnell, S. (2009). ICT and Health and Wellness in Remote and Rural First Nations Communities: A Social Determinants of Health Perspective. Canadian Society of Telehealth Conference (CST 2009), Vancouver, BC, October 3-6.

Abstract: The topic of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health is generally framed as telehealth and other technology processes that enable delivery of mainstream health services. However First Nation communities are also using ICT for community development activities that contribute to improved health and wellness. Based on the preliminary results of a literature review on how ICT is being used in remote and rural First Nations, this paper uses a social determinants of health perspective to begin to create a broader understanding of how ICT can contribute to community health and wellness in remote and rural First Nations.


Publication #16

Reference: Gibson, K., Simms, D., O’Donnell, S., & Molyneaux, H. (2009). Clinicians’ Attitudes toward the Use of Information and Communication Technologies for Mental Health Services in Remote and Rural Areas. Canadian Society of Telehealth Conference (CST 2009), Vancouver, BC, October 3-6.

Abstract: Little research exists regarding clinicians’ attitudes towards the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in clinical service provision – particularly within populations such as First Nations and Operational Stress Injury (OSI) clients. These clients may be particularly well served by technologies such as videoconferencing which allow clinicians to service these clients, many of whom are located in remote and rural geographical locations. However, adoption of these services is dependent upon on clinicians’ willingness to use these technologies. In this paper we discuss the results of qualitative and quantitative analysis of both survey and interview responses with a specific emphasis on clinicians’ attitudes towards use of ICT in service delivery in the present and future. Further, we explore successes, challenges and barriers to the use of technology as well as suggestions for future directions for research.


Publication #13

Reference: Milliken, M., O’Donnell, S. (2009). Communication in Place: Videoconferencing for First Nation Community Development. Presented at the Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference (CCA 2009), Carleton University, Ottawa, May.

Abstract: One definition of globalization suggests that the social relations traditionally associated with specific territorial locations have been transformed, and that physical distance is less of an impediment to communication and exchange than it used to be (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, & Perraton, 1999). However, when the costs associated with travel to and from remote and rural First Nation communities are calculated, social and geographic relations still restrict opportunities for face-to-face communication and access to resources. Technology such as videoconferencing has been a powerful tool for overcoming these barriers; it enables people to stay where they are “from”, and still engage in face-to-face audio and visual communication with people at one or more locations anywhere in the world.

Remote and rural First Nation communities are using videoconference facilities and networks to overcome isolation as well as access and share resources. Our research partners – 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 these networks for educational and health purposes. Now these networks are being employed for a wide range of cultural, artistic and community development activities using a relationship-building model. This paper draws on interviews with the technical and administrative staff of K-Net and the Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk to explore the ways that videoconferencing between two or more sites has facilitated local community development.


Publication #12

Reference: Gratton, M-F., O’Donnell, S. (2009). Integrating New Media into Communication Research: Multi-site Videoconferencing for Focus Groups with Remote First Nation Community Members. Presented at the Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference (CCA 2009), Carleton University, Ottawa, May.

Abstract: New media offer social science researchers more options for conducting research. Many researchers have been using text-based exchanges on the Internet as a data collection method. However some situations do not lend themselves to text-only exchange; a prime example is interviews with research participants from a cultural or community background that is outside the researchers’ daily frame of reference. In this situation, visual cues and face-to-face contact are essential for conveying information that will build trust and comfort levels between participants and the researcher. Conversely, 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 – too expensive and time-consuming – is often given to explain the lack of qualitative research with participants living in remote First Nation communities. This paper presents an overview 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 in Ottawa and participants in multiple remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario. The paper presents some of the challenges of research with remote communities, an overview of the study, the methodology, the technology used, a profile of the research partner and research participants, the process for the focus groups, what went well and the advantages of using this method and some of the challenges we experienced. Our conclusion encourages other researchers to try this innovative method to include more remote First Nation community members in participatory research projects.


Publication #11

Reference: Hancock, B-R., and O’Donnell, S. (2009). New Media and Self-Determination: Publicly Made and Accessible Video and Remote and Rural First Nation Communities. Presented at the Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference (CCA 2009), Carleton University, Ottawa, May.

Abstract: This working paper explores the potential for New Media to provide a means for members of remote and rural First Nations communities to challenge problematic mainstream representations of First Nations identity. Video on public access sites such as YouTube and Google Video, as well as on websites that act as hubs for First Nations internet users in remote and rural areas, allow for the accumulation of a critical mass of videos, providing complex, contemporary, and fluid images that “speak” to one another across distance and time. Such an accumulation may provide the means for a social movement—the public dissemination of self-determined identities by members of remote and rural First Nations communities thus growing in power to become a counter-hegemonic practice that undermines the misrepresentations of First Nations culture and identities in mainstream Canadian media.


Publication #10

Reference: McKelvey, F., O’Donnell, S. (2009). Multi-site Videoconferencing as a Public Sphere in First Nation Communities: A Case Study. Presented at the International Communication Association Annual Conference (ICA 2009), Chicago, May.

Abstract: The paper examines multi-site videoconferencing as a public sphere. The theory of the public highlights the political effects of multi-site videoconferencing and how the technology contributes to the well-being of the community. To analyze the political effects of videoconferencing, the paper describes a case of community use of multi-site videoconferencing based on video analysis and semi-structured interviews. The case occurred in 2007 and connected a number of First Nation communities across Canada for simultaneous audio-visual exchange. K-Net Services in Ontario hosted the meeting to gauge the feasibility of public meetings through videoconferencing and to document an example of community uses of the technology. K-Net Services works to develop their videoconferencing infrastructure as a public space. Our findings suggest K-Net’s activities have developed a media institution best understood as a counter-public sphere for their service region. The case meeting shows a potential new opportunity to further integrate videoconferencing into community development.


Publication #9

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Walmark, B., and Hancock, B-R. (2009).Communicating Visually: Videoconferencing and Remote and Rural First Nations. Presented at the Aboriginal Policy Research Conference, Ottawa, Canada, March.

Abstract: Videoconferencing is usually perceived as something useful for institutional reasons – primarily telehealth and distance education. First Nations are using videoconferencing not only for health and education but also in other ways for community, economic and social development. This paper discusses findings from a SSHRC-funded study of First Nations organizations that are supporting the use of video communications by rural and remote communities. The discussion 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 of this paper 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. Further, if we can find ways to increase the use of videoconferencing in non-institutional settings by everyone in First Nations communities, the technology will be used more often for institutional applications. Thus, increasing the non-institutional, everyday use of videoconferencing will have a positive impact on its use for telehealthand distance education. The paper includes recommendations for policy makers to support the more widespread use of this powerful communication technology by remote and rural First Nations.


Publication #8

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Beaton, B., & McKelvey, F. (2008).Videoconferencing and Sustainable Development for Remote and Rural First Nations in Canada. Proceedings of the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN 08) Conference, Prato, Italy, October.

Abstract: Videoconferencing can be used to connect remote and rural First Nation communities to work together on sustainable development priorities. This paper presents two case studies of videoconferencing events. In both cases, a real-time high-bandwidth connection provided rich visual and audio data to be exchanged among communities separated by vast distances. The host communities for these videoconference events are small First Nations with traditional lifestyles connected to the land. Despite their remoteness and traditional cultures, these communities have the capacity to use advanced high-bandwidth technologies in innovative ways to contribute to sustainable development of their communities.


Publication #7

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Perley, S., and Simms, D. (2008). Challenges for Video Communications in Remote and Rural Communities. Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (IEEE ISTAS 08). Fredericton, June.

Abstract: For Canada’s remote and rural communities, video communications provide a vital lifeline. This study explores 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.


Publication #6

Reference: Perley, S. (2008). Representation and Participation of First Nations Women in Online Videos. Presented at the International Communication Association Annual Conference (ICA 2008), Montreal, May.

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 paper 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.


Publication #2

Reference: O’Donnell, S., Perley, S., Walmark, B., Burton, K., Beaton, B., & Sark, A. (2007). Community-based Broadband Organizations and Video Communications for Remote and Rural First Nations in Canada. Proceedings of the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN 2007). Prato, Italy, November.

Abstract: Our research is building understanding about how two community-based First Nations organizations in Canada are using video communications on broadband networks to support economic and social development in remote and rural First Nations. This study situates these two organizations within a broader social movement working toward self-determination for First Nations in Canada, exploring their use of video communications in this context. Video communications using broadband networks includes videoconferences (live and archived) and online videos. The research methodology for this study includes a content analysis of hundreds of archived videoconferences and videos on the servers of the two organizations as well as interviews with key informants using these technologies to develop remote and rural First Nations communities.


Publication #1

Reference: S. Perley and S. O’Donnell. (2006). Broadband Video Communication Research in First Nation Communities. Presented at the Canadian Communication Association Annual Conference (CCA 2006), York University, Toronto, Ontario, June.

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of policies and strategies for broadband infrastructure and access, and broadband video communication development and use in First Nation communities in Canada. Although using broadband for video communication remains underdeveloped in First Nation communities as a whole, successful initiatives have been underway for many years, particularly in the areas of distance education and telehealth applications. The research conducted to date on broadband video in Aboriginal communities has focused almost exclusively on evaluations of distance education and telehealth applications, which have primarily been positive evaluations. There has been little research on other kinds of applications. The authors discuss approaches to doing research with Aboriginal communities. Clearly there are many opportunities for researchers to investigate and explore the possibilities of broadband video communication for First Nations across Canada. However researchers working on these projects in First Nation communities will face a number of challenges. The authors discuss these challenges and outline some ways forward. Before First Nation communities develop broadband video communication applications, concrete First Nation community-specific planning and development that looks at the needs, priorities, and long-term goals of the community and its members must be fully addressed.