The CIRA Community Investment Program Grant program has committed to building internet infrastructure in First Nations communities since its inception following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Report. First Nation communities and Reserves are often remote with limited access to high-speed internet. Understanding the lifeline that the internet represents, CIRA is committed to bringing the necessary resources for network construction and business development. They’ve recently shared three of their success stories.
Takla Lake Nation
The Takla Lake Nation (TLN) of British Columbia has faced the challenges of being far from larger population centers. Located 400km north of Prince George, the 250 residents have faced power outages, server crashes and difficulty re-establishing these critical connections. However, with the aid of the BC government, the CIRA Grant program has kick-started their project to upgrade outdated equipment and improve local connectivity for the residents.
Leq’á:mel First Nation
Like the Takla Lake Nation, the Leq’á:mel First Nation (LFN) had also experienced inconsistent connectivity. The community lies 22km east of Mission, BC, with several Nation-owned businesses experiencing the frustrations that come with poor connectivity with their clients. As a result, many business owners ended up moving out of the Nation to Mission or the larger cities further south. In addition, security audits found that their obsolete network infrastructure was vulnerable to cyberattacks.
In partnership with Troika Technologies, the CIRA Community Investment grants are in the process of securing and upgrading the LFN networks. Community leaders are hopeful that these upgrades will encourage business to return to the LFN.
The Vancouver Island-based Malahat Nation had experienced bottlenecks in their internet services as demand had continued to increase over a number of years. Rather than relying on external services, the community is eager to develop their own infrastructure maintenance team. To that end, CIRA has committed funding that the Nation plans will use for hardware costs of setting up their own server with the goal of providing free internet access to all residents.
These three Nations are just some of those that have benefited from the CIRA Grants program. The hope is to bring all FN communities into line with the minimum 50Mbps standard enjoyed by larger communities throughout the country.