Remote Aboriginal communities collaborate to access additional satellite bandwidth

Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net team is working with 13 First Natons across northern Ontario along with the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) representing 15 remote communities in northern Quebec and Keewatin Tribal Council representing 16 satellite seved communities in northern Manitoba. Together, these three organizations and 44 remote communities established the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN) to secure, manage and share satellite bandwidth to deliver a full suite of online services including telehealth, e-learning, e-justice, video conferencing, VOIP, etc in each partner community. For more information about this consortium, visit

Today's announcement from Infrastructure Canada is a result of more than 10 years of development work that began back in 1997 when Keewaytinook Okimakanak staff began meeting with Industry Canada's FedNor program about providing equitable access to bandwidth in satellite-served communities as that enjoyed by other Canadians.

Click here to watch the video of the webcast announcement (Windows Media, 33 minutes)

Infrastructure Canada News Release ...

August 24, 2007

Canada’s Government Provides $20.65M for Wider Broadband Access to 43 Northern Communities

Kuujjuaq, Quebec - Residents of 43 northern communities in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba can soon expect wider access to broadband service and its benefits thanks to a commitment from Canada’s New Government to provide up to $20.65 million to purchase new satellite infrastructure.

The announcement was made today by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and Ms. Maggie Emudluk, Chairperson of the Kativik Regional Government, representing the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN). The NICSN involves a partnership among three Organizations: the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) in Quebec; the Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) in Manitoba; and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council (KO) in Ontario.

“Broadband is a key piece of infrastructure for 21st Century communities to help support their economic growth and prosperity,” said Minister Cannon. “Canada’s New Government is pleased to partner with the Kativik Regional Government and the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network on this initiative that will provide residents with improved access to a wide range of services and will help stimulate economic development and enhance people’s quality of life. E-health and tele-eduation are just two services this investment will open up.”

“With the ever increasing use of technology in a very short period of time, we have witnessed an increased consumption of broadband use to the point that important services such as tele-health and tele-education could not benefit from this technology. Therefore, this announcement will allow us to provide these important services to the region,” said Ms. Emudluk.

Canada’s Government is contributing up to $20.65 million, or 75 per cent of the $27.5 million cost, for the procurement of two satellite transponders and the required earth station and local access network upgrades. The funding is made available through the Government of Canada’s National Satellite Initiative (NSI). The remaining 25 per cent ($6.88 million) will come from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund ($1.8 million), the Government of Québec’s Villages branchés program ($2.2 million) and Telesat Canada ($2.88 million).

This project complements an initiative of the first round of the NSI, which allocated one Public Benefit Transponder (PBT) to NICSN to provide service to public institutions in the 43 communities. The funding announced today will enable the provision of broadband services to all members of the community.

Financial support for this project is conditional on meeting applicable federal requirements, including the successful completion of environmental assessments required under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the successful negotiation of a contribution agreement.

This is the first NSI project to be announced in Quebec. Two other NSI projects have received funding to date: one in Nunavut, and the other in the Northwest Territories.

Through its unprecedented $33-billion “Building Canada” plan, Canada’s New Government will help meet infrastructure needs across Canada through long-term, stable and predictable funding. “Building Canada” will support a stronger, safer and better country, through infrastructure projects that support cleaner air and water, a stronger economy, and a better quality of life for our communities.


Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary to the Honourable Lawrence Cannon

Infrastructure Canada
Communications and Promotion

Jean-Francois Dumoulin
Assistant-Director Administration Department, IT section
Kativik Regional Government
Montreal: 514-745-8880 ext. 246
Kuujjuaq: 819-964-2961 ext. 2343


Project Description
Canada’s New Government is contributing up to $20.65 million, up to 75 per cent of the $27.5 million cost, for this multi-jurisdictional project that will provide additional bandwidth to 43 communities in the northern regions of Québec, Manitoba and Ontario, serving over 46,000 people.

These communities currently have access to limited bandwidth that can not meet current or future community needs. The project announced today involves the provision of two satellite transponders that will provide bandwidth not only to public institutions, but to the entire communities they serve. To support this bandwidth, the project will also upgrade the satellite earth stations and local access networks within the communities where required.

This additional bandwidth will enable enhanced delivery of government services through e-governance; improved delivery of justice, education and healthcare services with the use of videoconferencing; and improved economic development and e-commerce for communities.

Canada’s New Government will provide this funding to the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) on behalf of the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN). The NICSN involves a partnership among three organizations: the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) in Quebec; the Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) in Manitoba; and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council (KO) in Ontario.

NICSN currently operates a satellite network that provides the 43 communities with broadband capacity for public institutions. Each of these communities is equipped with a state of the art satellite earth station. A master earth station located in Sioux Lookout, Ontario serves as the Internet gateway and network management center.

The remaining 25 per cent of the funding for this project ($6.88 million) will come from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund ($1.8 million), the Government of Québec’s Villages branchés program ($2.2 million) and Telesat Canada ($2.88 million).

Project Benefits
This project will enable the provision of broadband services to all members of the 43 communities. Through this project, increased access to broadband will help to improve quality of life and social development. It will also increase the potential for innovation and economic development in Canada’s communities by connecting Canadians and improving the electronic delivery of public services such as health, education and government services.

Government of Canada Funding Sources
Funding for this broadband project falls under the National Satellite Initiative (NSI), which was launched by Industry Canada in partnership with Infrastructure Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency. NSI was created to make available affordable satellite capacity for the deployment of broadband services (such as tele-health, tele-education, e-commerce, etc.) to communities in the far to mid-north, and in isolated and remote areas of Canada, where satellite technology is the only practical solution.

ROUND 1: The Industry Canada Component (C-Band Credit), which is now completed, consisted of providing satellite capacity from Telesat Canada’s Public Benefit Transponder (PBT), valued at $20 million over 15 years, to deploy public and community-based services to remote communities.

Under Round 1, one PBT was allocated to NICSN to provide service to public institutions in the 43 communities. The PBT provides NICSN with 36 MHz of satellite capacity supporting 31 Mbps of usable bandwidth.

ROUND 2: The Government of Canada’s Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund allocated $85 million to the NSI to fund the acquisition of satellite capacity and common ground infrastructure for satellite-based broadband projects in isolated and remote communities across Canada.

Under Round 2, up to $20.65 million is being provided to fund two satellite transponders and to upgrade the satellite earth stations and local access networks for 43 communities in the northern regions of Québec, Manitoba and Ontario.

Two other projects have been announced under the NSI to date from Round 2:

  • Nunavut – $7.83M to provide broadband service via satellite to all 25 communities in Nunavut
  • Northwest Territories – $7.0M to provide broadband service via satellite to 31 communities in the Northwest Territories

Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network Communities


Barren Lands FN
Garden Hill FN  
Manto Sipi Cree Nation              
God’s Lake FN
Northlands Dene FN
Bunibonibee Cree FN
Poplar River FN
Mathias Colomb Cree Nation      
Shamattawa First Nation           
Sayisi Dene FN
Ste Theresa Point FN
Red Sucker Lake FN
Berens River
Mosakahikan Cree Nation          
Bloodvein FN


Attawapiskat First Nation
Cat Lake First Nation
Fort Severn
Fort Hope
Kasabonika Lake
Lansdowne House
Marten Falls
Muskrat Dam
Sachigo Lake   
Slate Falls
Weagamow Lake




From Saturday's Globe and Mail ...

$170-million boost buoys Quebec Inuit
BILL CURRY - August 25, 2007

KUUJJUAQ, QUE. — Millions upon millions of provincial dollars rained down on Quebec's 10,000 Inuit Friday, promising everything from new houses and better health care to a break on the exorbitant cost of groceries.

The announcements add up to about $170-million in new money over the next five years as the massive northern region called Nunavik prepares to govern itself.

In a country where policy makers have long struggled to find a successful approach to Canada's aboriginals, the magnitude of provincial spending and involvement is unique.

Since Confederation, premiers have long insisted that native communities were Ottawa's problem. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said his province is clearly trying something new in its relations with aboriginals.

Wrapping up a two-day conference focused on the Inuit and plans for a Regional Government of Nunavik, Mr. Charest offered a personal message to the Inuit listening in on the radio.

“What is happening today is a gesture of respect,” he said. “If you are experiencing problems in regards to drug abuse or alcohol abuse, if you feel these problems are bigger than you are, you now know that a call for help was expressed here. I was impressed by the ability of your community to say, ‘We need help.'

“We tried as much as we can to answer that call, while at the same time acknowledging and recognizing that whatever help we can offer, it can never be a substitute to what a parent needs to say to each child; to the responsibility that you want to assume in your community for your own future,” he said.

Earlier in the conference, Mr. Charest portrayed his province's approach to aboriginal issues as being “ahead” of any other in Canada. He attributed this to lessons learned in working with the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, a modern treaty for Quebec's Inuit and Cree population that opened the north to hydro development.

Inuit leaders described the new money as a victory, but noted that the two federal ministers who attended – Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon – had comparatively little to announce.

“They could have done more,” Inuit leader Pita Aatami said of the federal government. “But I think they already do a lot.”

Mr. Cannon announced a $21-million fund for bringing high-speed Internet to the north, but that money will be shared with Ontario and Manitoba. The Transport Minister said results matter more than the amount of money.

“It's not a race,” he said, while offering his support for the creation of a regional government for Quebec's Inuit-dominated north. “Hopefully this initiative is an initiative that can be used in other parts of the country.”

National Inuit leader Mary Simon said Quebec's approach is clearly different and welcome. She has been closely involved in the many treaty and constitutional talks on aboriginal issues over the past four decades. As president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, she has also been invited to take part in recent first ministers meetings.

“We used to be very wary of how the province was going to get involved in our affairs,” said Ms. Simon, who grew up in this Inuit town. Yet since premier René Lévesque in the 1970s, the Quebec Inuit's experience with the province has been generally positive, she said.