Nunavut hooked on Internet - EBay a big draw for isolated northern communities
Nathan VanderKlippe, CanWest News Service
Published: Sunday, September 17, 2006
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. - Like many women in Nunavut, Billy Etooangat's wife spends days every fall picking tundra berries on the steep fiord slopes near Pangnirtung, their home on the east coast of Baffin Island.
But this year, she's the talk of the town after Etooangat used a new high-speed Internet service to buy her a Swedish berry-picker, a device that's helping her outpick the other women.
"We never had that in the North, a berry-picker," he says. "So I found it and she liked it and everybody wants to have one."
Such stories are increasingly common in Nunavut, where thousands have leaped to take advantage of the new satellite Internet service, called Qiniq, which just celebrated its first anniversary.
"We're between 25 and 50 per cent over projected sales in every market," said Lorraine Thomas, project manager for the Iqaluit-based Nunavut Broadband Development Corp.
"We've met our end-of-second-year projections, and we're at the end of the first year. So we just expect to continue to grow."
The program's success has spawned plans to roll out Internet phones, online video conferencing for training and distance education -- even a kit that will power Internet access on the tundra using a snowmobile battery. It is also forcing Thomas to scramble for more government funding to keep the heavily subsidized Internet service running.
The Northwest Territories hopes to have a parallel service in place by October.
"In this day and age, it's almost a human right," said Margaret Gorman, whose Yellowknife-based Denendeh Development Corp. spearheaded the effort to bring Internet to 31 territorial hamlets.
"Everyone should have access to the same information and opportunities."
For $60 a month, the service offers speeds equivalent to the cable Internet sold in major Canadian cities. It has revolutionized Internet access in the North, allowing hunters to download satellite ice charts before leaving town and community art shops to sell Inuit crafts online.
"Everybody wants to have a laptop and get connected and make new friends, chat with people, keep in touch, get the weather," said Bob McLean, the Qiniq provider in Sanikiluaq, a hamlet of 800 located on an island in southern Hudson Bay and arguably Nunavut's most isolated community.
"EBay's pretty big around here -- people buying barbecues, Honda tires, Ski-Doo parts, stuff like that."
In Pond Inlet, a hamlet of 1,400 on the northern tip of Baffin Island, more than 100 people have signed up for the service, which also powers the community's municipal offices and major grocery stores.
Before Qiniq arrived, Martha Kyak used a fax machine to order supplies for Kisutaarvik, the convenience store she runs out of her basement.
"But there would be no pictures," she said. "With the Internet, I can actually see the pictures and it seems like it opened the doors to more variety of stuff."
Promoters of the service have billed Qiniq as a critical step in promoting the territory's economic development, allowing students and entrepreneurs access to information and markets never before possible.
Thomas once shared a cab with a person who told her, "It's the best thing that's ever happened in Nunavut."
"Better than hospitals? Better than Grade 2?" she asked herself, before reflecting on the importance of online access to health care and education.
"It's critical to every part of the services and products and economic development," she said.
In reality, said John Henderson, Pond Inlet's Qiniq representative, "I would bet that most people are on for chatting."
Some worry their kids are getting hooked on instant messaging programs, which have spread like wildfire across Nunavut.
"They spend too much time on the Internet," Kyak said. "They could be doing other stuff, but they end up being glued to the computer."
Increasingly, they're also accessing bandwidth-hogging material like videos. That, along with the program's unanticipated success, has sparked concerns over the cost of keeping the North online.
Ottawa kicked in nearly $4 million to install Nunavut's network, plus nearly $1 million per year over eight years to offset the cost of satellite bandwidth, which is hundreds of times more expensive than southern fibre optic connections.
But as people begin downloading movies and using their computers to video-conference, Nunavut will need to double or triple the size of its data pipes in the next few years. Thomas says the only way to do that is with more government funding.
"We're going to have to look at federal programs to make sure there's money flowing into Nunavut so (people) can turn around and purchase the bandwidth required to do what they want," she said.
There's no way around it in a place where everything from fuel to potato chips is subsidized, she said.
"It's actually a pretty small investment when you look at the cost of doing anything else," she said. "It's $1 million to build a kilometre of gravel road up here. Compare that to a few hundred thousand for some additional bandwidth for all Nunavut to share."
Leaders demand urgent action to improve Quebec aboriginal health
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
First Nations leaders in Quebec are calling for urgent action to improve living standards on reserves, in light of a new health study that reveals the majority of the province's 80,000 aboriginal people smoke, and are overweight or obese.
'With those numbers, I'm ashamed to be Canadian. Our health is the same as people in Third World countries.'
- Dr. Stanley Vollant, aboriginal surgeon and former president of the Quebec Medical Association
The study, which was based on interviews with 4,000 Quebec aboriginal people living on and off reserves, found the obesity and overweight rates among adults and seniors were two and three times higher than the national average.
The study also found that more than 50 per cent of people participating in the study smoked cigarettes.
The situation is scandalous, said Dr. Stanley Vollant, an aboriginal surgeon and former president of Quebec's Medical Association.
"With those numbers, I'm ashamed to be Canadian," said Vollant, a member of the Montagnais community of Betsiamites. "Our health is the same as people in Third World countries."
The study found the following obesity and overweight rates within aboriginal communities:
Aboriginal communities could face an alarming number of cases of diabetes and respiratory disease in the near future if nothing is done to address the situation right now, said Vollant.
"You can expect in 10-15 years, an epidemic in diabetes. The rates will increase two, three, four times," he warned.
Economic and social conditions on both reserves and in urban settings exacerbate the problems, said Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador. The combination of underemployment and poor access to healthy foods makes it hard for people to make the right choices.
It's time all three levels of government — band councils, the province and Ottawa — act fast and act together to stem the tide, said Picard.
"Maybe the investment we have so far from the governments hasn't been properly placed," he said Tuesday.
The study was carried out by the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Committee in 2002. Aboriginal people living on 23 reserves and in Montreal, Quebec City and Val d'Or took part in the investigation. The study excluded northern Quebec Crees, the Mohawk community of Kahnawake and the Inuit.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Introducing the first-ever, annual One Web Day on September 22.
Ten years ago, it seemed like only teens and tech-savvy people were online. Now, everybody from 8 to 88 is surfing, emailing, and cybering. In fact, in May 2006, over 21,297,000 Canadians were online, getting connected. And that deserves a celebration!
But before we break out the bubbly for One Web Day, we want to find out what the Internet means to Canadians like you. So from August 7 to September 8, we're embarking on a cross-country tour. Watch right here as Gavin, our One Web Day Ambassador, interviews Canadians from coast to coast to coast to find out how the Internet has changed their lives. What you hear just may surprise you!
How can you celebrate One Web Day?
You can start by exploring this website, watching Gavin's cross-country interviews or learning more about online challenges. What else can you do? Tell a friend, send an email, Google™ something new, or IM your friends. Or check out how the rest of the world is celebrating by visiting http://onewebday.org.
Whatever you do - do it online. You'll make history by being part of the first ever One Web Day.
One Web Day celebrates internet
Last Updated: Friday, September 22, 2006
Internet enthusiasts around the globe were celebrating the online world Friday in an event they hope will become an annual occurrence.
Organizers want One Web Day to become a yearly event that encourages individuals and companies to celebrate the World Wide Web, educate the public at large and make personal efforts to mark the day in a variety of ways, according to OneWebDay, Inc., the not-for-profit U.S. company that launched the initiative.
Several prominent and influential bloggers serve on OneWebDay Inc.'s board of directors, including Doc Searls (Doc Searls Weblog), David Weinberger (Joho the Blog) and Mary Hodder (Napsterization).
Examples of activities organizers suggest people can participate in include collective online art projects, gathering accounts of what the web means to people and teaching others how to blog.
Organizers hope the event will continue to be held on Sept. 22 every year.
In Canada, the not-for-profit body assigned to govern the country's .ca Internet domain is spearheading celebrations.
"One Web Day ... was created to connect the more than 21 million Canadians online either surfing, e-mailing or cybering, through the launch of a national tour to discover first-hand the impact of the internet in their daily lives," the Canadian Internet Registration Authority said in a statement.
The authority commissioned Canadian-born feature filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth to tour the country, visiting all three coasts to ask Canadians about their online experiences and share their thoughts about the value of the internet. The footage is online at the Canadian One Web Day site.
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples will be in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario during the last week of September, looking at various factors that hinder or contribute to successful business or economic development in aboriginal communities. The committee will hear testimony from various witnesses and experts. All sessions will be open to the public.
From their web site at http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/committee_Senhome.asp?Language=E&parl=39&Ses=1&comm_id=1
As part of their ongoing study on the conditions that foster or hinder successful economic development in aboriginal communities, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples will be traveling to Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, during the week of September 25, 2006 to conduct a series of hearings in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Thunder Bay.
For more details about the hearings, contact the committee clerk, Gaetane Lemay at 613-993-8968 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
National Chief Phil Fontaine's presentation to the federal Finance Committee on Tuesday, September 19 highlights the results of continuous government underfunding for remote and rural First Nations across Canada. A crisis situation exists in Canada with the facts facing federal politicians ...
Below is the handout presented to the media and committee members. Click here for the 18 page presentation. (PDF, 1.2Mb)
Voices for Children turns ideas, knowledge and experience into positive lasting change for the well-being of Ontario's young people. If you would prefer not to receive future e-mails or e-Bulletins, please click to unsubscribe from our mailing list.
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Visit www.nan.on.ca to see the NAN press release below.
NAN Decade for Youth Promotes Suicide Prevention and Awareness
Posted by: Communications and Media email@example.com
NAN Decade for Youth and Development kicked off events recognizing the 12th Annual Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention and Awareness week during a news conference in Thunder Bay Monday September 18, 2006.
Click Here for a full schedule of events of Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week September 18-23, 2006
Some of the events taking place during the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week include youth forums and roundtable discussions on suicide prevention, ceremonial yellow balloon launch for NAN members lost to suicide, and powwow.
NAN Decade for Youth and Development is a 2001 initiative declaring an entire decade to empowering and mentoring youth within NAN territory. Suicide prevention is one of many focuses of the program which launched the We Care Yellow Balloon campaign in March.
Voices for Children promotes the well-being of children and youth in Ontario by disseminating information to influence policy, practice and awareness.
There have been 19 suicides in NAN territory this year. There were 25 suicides in 2005 which is almost double the national average.
Aliya Pardhan, a University of Guelph Masters of Science graduate completed the defense of her thesis this past summer. Her thesis, "EXPLORING KEY STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVES FOR A COLLABORATIVE FIRST NATION RESEARCH PROTOCOL", is an important publication for anyone interested in working with First Nations in the delivery of health and other services.
Dr. Ricardo Ramirez was her Academic Advisor at the University of Guelph for this work. Aliya visited Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout and Fort Severn to complete the research portion of her thesis, working with the Keewaytinook Okimakanak team and Fort Severn leadership and community members.
From the abstract ....
This thesis proposes a set of recommendations to assist the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI) in developing codes of conduct of research with the First Nation.
It places the discussion of research ethics in the context of cultural world view and the struggle for self-determination as peoples and nations.
It affirms that the First Nation Peoples have a right to participate as partners in research that generates knowledge affecting their culture, identity and well-being.
To provide the context and rational for the recommendations presented, the thesis outlines how ethics are framed in the First Nation with respect to research design, informed consent, entry into the field, confidentiality, approaches to data collection, participant roles, ownership of data and dissemination of results.
The thesis also describes how First Nation perceptions of reality and ethical behavior contrast with the norms prevailing in western research. The perspective of community ethics suggests that representation of multiple voices, enhancement of moral discernment, building capacity, empowerment, and self-advocacy need to be critical components of research.
This study emphasizes that the research process needs to be reciprocal and collaborative, with communities, researchers, research organizations, academic institutions, research councils and funding agencies working together to shape the conception, definition and direction of research in the North.
Concerning her future adventures, Aliya writes ... "I actually did get accepted into a PhD program here at Guelph in epidemiology/population medicine. I do intend to build on my thesis with more of a health/infectious disease perspective. My research is being funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada."
Keewaytinook Okimakanak congratulates Aliya on her successes and looks forward to working with her on her doctoral research.
The North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is a new organization designed to plan, integrate and fund health services in Northwestern Ontario, including hospitals, community care access centres, home care, long-term care, community health centres, community support services and mental health and addiction services.
The North West LHIN has been working with health service providers, communities and the public to develop an Integrated Health Services Plan (IHSP) for Northwestern Ontario. This plan will set out broad health care priorities and strategies for our area for the three year period beginning in April 2007.
The Integrated Health Services Plan will be submitted to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care by October 31, 2006 and will include:
A draft plan is now available and the North West LHIN is
seeking public input on this document.
You can access the draft plan and the accompanying feedback survey on the Northwest LHIN web site at www.lhins.on.ca, or you can contact the North West LHIN for a copy.
Contact: Maria Harding
Toll-free: 1-866-907-5446, ext. 2009
Tel.: 807-684-9533, ext. 2009
The North West LHIN will receive feedback on the plan until October 10, 2006.
George Ferreira, a University of Guelph doctoral candidate successfully defended his thesis, "PARTICIPATORY VIDEO FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES" on Monday, Sept 18, 2006. Doctor George is now available to take on new and exciting challenges that will hopefully further his research and production work.
The two hour session was video conferenced with professors, students, friends, co-workers and special guests (Don Snowden's family members) at the the University of Guelph, University of Toronto and Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Sioux Lookout office linked together for this special event. The video conferenced session is archived for online viewing. Click here to watch George's defense of his doctoral thesis.
George began working with Keewaytinook Okimakanak back in the spring and summer of 2003, becoming part of the Kuhkenah Network's Smart Communities evaluation team (Don Richardson, Helen Aitkin and Ricardo Ramirez). He travelled to each of the KO First Nations providing video production training and capturing how the KO First Nations were utilizing ICTs. His footage has been used in the production of a number of online video presentations about K-Net and our partners. Cal Kenny, K-Net's Multi-media Producer and others worked with George over these past few years to develop some great video material that is available on the K-Net website.
The production of the "Turning the Corner" video in the winter of 2005, provided George with the opportunity to meet with a number of government officials to further his research on the use of video as a means of influencing public policies and programs. Click here to see the KNEWS story about the "Turning the Corner" video presentation in Ottawa.
Brian Walmark, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute Coordinator, was part of George's advisory team and thesis review committee along with Doctors Ricardo Ramirez, Al Lauzon and Isobel Heathcote at the University of Guelph. Dr. Susan O'Donnell from the National Research Council in New Brunswick was part of George's thesis review committee.
From George's thesis abstract (the link to the entire thesis will be added once it is finalized) ...
This research is based on the Fogo Process which used film to bridge communication between a group of remote Newfoundland fishing communities and government policy makers and politicians in the late 1960’s. The research expands the scope of the Fogo Process by integrating principles from participatory video, a development strategy used to build local capacity around socio-economic issues, participatory action research and advances in video technology.
This thesis is an investigation of the role of participatory video as a tool to influence government policy making. The research is set within the context of a group of five remote Aboriginal communities in northwestern Ontario, Canada. These communities, collectively know as Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO), were part of a federal pilot program to encourage innovative broadband infrastructure development across the country. These communities represent a rare research environment because prior to the introduction of broadband services, they were minimally serviced in terms of telecommunications, with one telephone available for all the communities needs.
The research was initially made possible because of the need for program evaluation data. Video was used to gather testimonial stories in support of KO’s Smart Program evaluation report. Video was chosen because it was felt by the evaluation team and KO leadership that Industry Canada, the primary funding agency, could make a more informed assessment if the data was contextualized through the provision of real life accounts and experiences with broadband. Very few Canadians have ever visited communities such as these and the impact that broadband was having on health care, education and community development required a communication mechanism beyond conventional evaluation approaches.
Local leadership quickly realized the potential of video to link their needs with policy makers located thousands of kilometers away. Research continued into the development and dissemination of locally produced videos in the service of policy needs. During the course of the initial video productions, I provided training workshops in the communities thereby creating a critical mass of people who could produce their own video media and, in turn, teach others.
After the collaborative production of twenty two videos, and numerous others produced independently by former trainees, the research culminated in the production of Turning the Corner. This was a 17 minute video produced in cooperation with the Privy Council of Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat and KO leadership. The purpose of the video was to relay the message that bottom-up planning and funding strategies were essential to the success of broadband expansion across Canada’s Northern Aboriginal communities. This message was based on the lessons and experience of the KO communities where broadband had transformed community life from telehealth applications and internet assisted education to overcoming isolation and community development. The video made real the need for local planning and initiative to be brought into the planning process for broadband infrastructure through a series of screenings to senior policy makers in the nation’s capital, Ottawa.