Preparing for Year 2 Smart Community ICT Strategic Planning Workshops

Taking the Next Step

On November 20, Les Meekis, KO’s Community Manager for the Smart project, facilitated a virtual gathering of the smart teams from the five Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) First Nations. Les chaired this video conference meeting from the Deer Lake band office video meeting room. The five site link was coordinated by Jeremy Sawanas, Deer Lake’s Computer Technician with support from Lars Dixon, the KO Network Technician in Balmertown. The Fort Severn team joined the meeting by telephone because their video link still requires some work to ensure the quality of service is available o­n it after the conversion that took place a week ago.

The communities met to discuss the preparations for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Community planning workshops. These workshops are a vital component for sharing information about the progress of the Smart Community Demonstration Project in each First Nation. Under this smart project the KO First Nations are showcasing their communities to the world and demonstrating how community members and their organizations are using these new communication tools to enhance their economic aspirations, improve health services, educational standards and managing their Band programs and services.

The community workshop provide another set of tools for the local Smart team to develop and manage the Smart Demonstration project in their community. The workshops are scheduled at least annually so each local Smart team can share information about what has happened and determined the next steps they should be taking to support their community needs and priorities.

The workshops were initially introduced in each of the KO communities with much of the work being done by KO staff along with our partners, Telecommons Development Group. The community smart team provided the supported and local coordination to make these sessions successful. The reports of each of the workshops from Year 1 can be found at

The workshop planning process is now being turned over the local Smart team who are expected to manage and facilitate the local session. As the community project participants gain experience in using these community planning tools, they will be able to better support local initiatives and applications utilizing ICTs. Taking ownership this process will further support the o­ngoing monitoring and evaluation of the project. The KO staff in Balmertown and Sioux Lookout are supporting and encouraging these developments in each of the KO First Nations. Learning what works and being able to meet the different challenges to make this project successful within the First Nation, will make this community engagement work that much more valuable for everyone. Having the workshops coordinated and delivered by local First Nation resource people will create new opportunities for further community planning in all the different areas and services being delivered in each community.

Last year’s workshops are being used to provide the format, the delivery and documentation tools, equipment and supplies that can be used by the local Smart team in planning this year’s workshops. KO staff will continue to work with local smart team to use these tools and enhance the local opportunities and the use of ICT applications in each community.

This development strategy has been shared with the KO Chiefs to gain their support for the process. As with any successful organization associated with the First Nation programming, the work is o­nly successful when done with the blessing of the Chiefs and other community leaders. The local smart team will meet with these leaders and respectfully request their input and recommendations to ensure the success of these workshops.

Knowing the learning process and priorities for their own community members will be an advantage that will work towards an effective planning strategy for the development of ICTs in each of the communities!