Keewaytinook Okimakanak

Keewaytinook Okimakanak team meets with Ontario Conservative Party leader

Geordi Kakepetum, Executive Director and Peter Campbell, KO Public Works Manager met with John Tory, Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Party in Ontario, on Tuesday evening. The meeting provided the team from Keewaytinook Okimakanak with the opportunity to provide Mr. Tory with an introduction to the KO First Nations, their organization and the work that is being undertaken to support these communities. One outcome of the meeting was an expression of interest for Mr. Tory to visit the Keewaytinook Okimakanak office in Balmertown to learn more about the member First Nations, their programs and services.

Keewaytinook Okimakanak hosts a series of board and staff workshops

The Chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak began meeting in Balmertown on Tuesday of this week to review this year's budgets and discuss other issues affecting their communities and their tribal council.

On Wednesday, the Chiefs participated in a board workshop facilitated by Bea Shawanda. On Thursday, the Chiefs and the staff of Keewaytinook Okimakanak will be working together at the Red Lake Legion for the planned board and staff workshop. On Friday, the Keewaytinook Okimakanak staff will meet together for a staff development workshop.

Click here to see some pictures from this workshop

K-Net team hosts online environment for special events and gatherings

The new web space provides groups to work and plan together within a secure environment.

The K-Net team is inviting interested facilitators to identify applications using these resources that will engage and support First Nation participation across northern Ontario.

As the welcome message states ...

Welcome to K-Net Meetings! This online space allows people to participate in a wide range of First Nation workshops, programs and discussions. For full access to the discussion areas on this site, you will need to take a minute to create a new account for yourself.

Contact Cal Kenny ( for more information about setting up a meeting space for your online gathering.

B.C. health team tours KO Balmertown, Sioux Lookout operations and Eabametoong

A team of twelve health care service providers working with First Nations and their organizations from across British Columbia traveled to Northwestern Ontario to learn about the development of telehealth in this region.

The group spent the first day of their visit participating in training and information sharing with the KO Telehealth team in Balmertown. On Tuesday they flew to Eabametoong to meet with the local Community Telehealth Coordinator and community members about the introduction of telehealth as a community-based service. Then they traveled to Sioux Lookout to meet with the KO K-Net team to learn about the network and the various partners that have worked together to support the development of this service across the region. They left for Toronto today to meet with NORTH Network officials tomorrow before returning to their homes.

Kuhkenah Network (K-Net) working with James Bay regional hospitals and SSHA


Northern Ontario hospitals connect to provincial network

Major milestone reached in Ontario's health care system

SIOUX LOOKOUT and TORONTO, ON, March 21 /CNW/ - James Bay General Hospital in Moosonee, and Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory are now connected to the province's health care telecommunications network. This means they can now access services such as patient-doctor videoconferences with specialists in other parts of Ontario.

The provincial ONE (Ontario Network for e-Health) Network - a managed private network exclusively for health care providers - is run by Smart Systems for Health Agency (SSHA), an agency of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. SSHA worked with K-Net Services, a publicly funded, non-profit broadband network that is a service of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, a tribal council organization from northwestern Ontario, to link the two hospitals.

"SSHA and K-Net provide an invaluable service that will help us deliver a new level of patient care," says Wes Drodge, the new CEO of James Bay General Hospital.

"There will now be less need for our patients to travel, which will dramatically improve their quality of life - in many cases, patients will receive health care right here in their own community," Drodge says.

SSHA and K-Net Services used teamwork and technology to connect the hospitals in one of Ontario's most challenging locations.

"SSHA has now connected all public hospitals in Ontario to our network - an effort which began in 2001," says Laurie Hicks, SSHA Vice President of Client Services.

    In particular, over the past five years, ONE Network's benefits to Ontario hospitals include:

  • Saving them money by reducing the need for many networks
  • Validating Health Cards
  • Participating in the wait list management solutions of Cancer Care Ontario, the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario and the Trillium Gift of Life Network
  • Integrating services at multi-site hospitals
  • Integrating hospital services across a region
  • Connecting doctors to hospital systems
  • Sharing hospital discharge information with Community Care Access Centres
  • Providing Voice over IP capabilities

"Connecting an isolated community to the rest of the provincial health care system is good news for Ontario. But it is particularly good news for the people of western James Bay coast. It will eventually improve access to specialists and provide a reliable direct connection with other hospitals," Hicks says. "I am pleased that we were able to leverage the local expertise and connectivity offered by K-Net."

Geordi Kakepetum, Executive Director of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, agrees, "This service will improve access to specialized health care services for people who have distance, geography and weather challenges in this part of the province."

Brian Beaton, K-Net Services Coordinator, adds, "Connecting these hospitals posed unique technological challenges because of the distance. The reward was significant. It allowed us to provide connectivity to northern and First Nations communities."

The network will also allow James Bay General Hospital and the Weeneebayko General Hospital to access other services in future such as validating Health Cards and providing access to Emergency Departments so they can access a patient's Ontario Drug Benefit information from a Ministry application hosted by SSHA.

Future ONE Network connections are planned to other First Nations, health care providers in other Aboriginal communities and aboriginal clinics across Ontario.

For further information:

Danny Faria, SSHA Communications Advisor, (416) 586-4325 or,;

Brian Beaton, K-Net Services Coordinator, (807) 737-1135 or,

KO - Lakehead University win research grant - Digital Education with remote FNs

Geordi Kakepetum, executive director of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, is pleased to announce that a research proposal co-developed by KORI and the Lakehead University Faculty of Education has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) competition, in the Knowledge Cluster Strategic Grant category.

"This reinforces our relationship with the Lakehead University Faculty of Education which began with a face-to-face visit by Dean O’Sullivan to our offices in Balmertown last year," said Geordi. "We can work with people like Julia and her team who are committed to working with us to improve the quality of life in the KO communities."

Following O’Sullivan’s visit to Balmertown, John 0’Meara arranged a tour of KORI’s offices for several members of the Faculty of Education. During the tour, they participated in a video conference with KIHS principal, Darrin Potter and several teachers, principals and directors of education working in remote and isolated First Nations communities.

The Principal Investigator of the research is Lisa Korteweg, with Co-Investigators Seth Agbo, Ethel Gardner, Margaret Haughey of the University of Alberta, John O'Meara, and Brian Walmark of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute.

The title of the project is: Digital Education with Remote Aboriginal Communities.  "This is an exciting collaborative venture with Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute, a department of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council, which is a leader in the use of communication technologies in Northwestern Ontario," said John O’Meara, the Director of Graduate Studies at the LU Faculty of Education. "The project is intended to leverage other research opportunities, and we are looking forward to more collaborative ventures," he said.

Click here to read the Dec, 2005 story about this application proposal

Senior Metis Nation of Ontario leaders visit KO offices in Thunder Bay and by video

Tony Belcourt, president of the Metis Nation of Ontario and Gary Lipinski, chair of the MNO took time during their visit to Thunder Bay for the 5th annual Metchief Conference to visit the KORI offices.

During the stop, Tony and Gary talked with Brian Beaton and Carl Seibel in Sioux Lookout via videoconference and with Kevin Houghton in Balmertown via IP telephone. Discussions about MNO's mental health initiative using video conferencing provided an opportunity for everyone to learn about this new initiative.

NAN Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic welcomed the two leaders to Northern Ontario and will address the language conference on Saturday morning.

Wes McKay briefed the Metis leaders on a variety of KO applications including G8, KiHS, KOTH and the on-line special education workshops for classroom teachers in remote and isolated First Nation schools. Franz Seibel briefed the guests on the "Meet Me" initiative and the business case for IP telephony.

Brian Walmark thanked the Metis leaders for visiting the KO offices and presented them with KORI shirts.

Click here to see photos from this visit. 

KO's work with K-Net acknowledged in INAC Minister Prentice's speech

Making the Most of Aboriginal Connectivity

Notes for a Keynote Closing Address by The Honourable Jim Prentice, PC, MP
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians

To the Fifth Annual National Aboriginal Connectivity and E-Services Forum, Government Conference Centre, Ottawa, Ontario - March 14, 2006

Thank you for that kind introduction. It gives me great pleasure to speak at the closing of the Fifth Annual Aboriginal Connectivity Forum.

Like anyone who’s just starting a new job, I have much to learn, and I appreciate the opportunity to find out more about the remarkable progress that Aboriginal communities continue to make with communications technologies. And I’m impressed to hear about the direct benefits that many Aboriginal peoples can access everyday via Internet.

Je constate que les groupes autochtones ont fait beaucoup de progrès depuis le premier forum sur la connectivité en 2001.

De toute évidence, les peuples autochtones ont atteint un niveau de compétence sans précédent dans l’utilisation des technologies numériques et ont développé des techniques raffinées d’utilisation de l’Internet.

Today, connectivity projects deliver a growing number of valuable and tangible benefits to Aboriginal peoples in remote communities. Telehealth projects improve access to medical consultations and diagnostic tools; e-learning enables students to complete their high-school diplomas, earn college and university credits, and acquire the skills and knowledge they need to qualify for job opportunities. Connectivity can also spur economic development, by bringing markets within reach of Aboriginal entrepreneurs, and can help to strengthen traditional cultures and revitalize ancient languages.

I’m convinced that forums such as this one play an important role in bringing the full potential of computer and satellite-based communications to First Nation, Inuit, Métis and Northern communities. And my conviction is reinforced by the high quality of work accomplished in the past two days.   

I congratulate the Forum organizers for their wise programming decisions. I believe their approach to the Forum helps break conventional thinking and inspire fresh ideas—and both are essential to sound long-range planning, especially in the rapidly evolving field of communications.

Aboriginal groups continue to develop innovative approaches to use new technologies in ways that benefit their communities. I share your view that each successful connectivity project helps improve the quality of life experienced by residents of Aboriginal communities.

Il reste encore beaucoup à faire pour assurer que les Autochtones puissent participer pleinement et équitablement à la prospérité du Canada. Il ne fait aucun doute que la connectivité peut avoir des répercussions positives importantes et durables sur la qualité de vie.

To ensure that a greater number of Aboriginal peoples can benefit from connectivity, though, we must overcome the challenges associated with the vast majority of projects. Common challenges include underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of community capacity,  limited coordination among public-sector agencies, and issues of sustainability.

Of course, many connectivity projects manage to overcome these obstacles and deliver a wide range of services to Aboriginal communities across Canada. Projects such as the Aboriginal Telehealth Planning Partnership and K-Net, and groups such as Nunavut  Broadband Development Corporation and Kativik Regional Government–to mention but a few–have all harnessed the potential of connectivity to deliver valuable benefits. I believe that successful projects manage to overcome the obstacles associated with connectivity by relying on three key strategies.

First, by responding to community demands and delivering real benefits; second, by featuring a significant level of local control and ownership; and finally, by being the product of collaboration among multiple partners. These strategies should inspire the design of future connectivity projects, although, on their own, they are no guarantee of long-term success.

Given the costs of Internet services in remote communities, the sustainability of projects is a common problem. Another issue is community capacity—residents of isolated communities must acquire the skills and expertise they need to design, implement and manage projects that deliver the necessary services.

However, the strategies used in successful projects can be readily applied elsewhere. We must encourage Aboriginal communities to consider their needs carefully. And we must make it easier to establish partnerships among communities, federal departments and agencies, Aboriginal organizations and the provinces and territories.

There’s no question that connectivity projects deliver precisely the kind of benefits that enable Aboriginal communities to thrive. We must do all we can to ensure that more communities can access the benefits associated with communications technologies.

Des collectivités autochtones prospères et auto-suffisantes peuvent apporter beaucoup au Canada, au point de vue social, économique et culturel.

Although I am unable to stay for the rest of the evening’s events, I look forward to hear about the results of your deliberations.

Thank you.

Keewaytinook Okimakanak programs online at national economic development event

Keewaytinook Okimakanak's Kuhkenah Network (, Telehealth initiative ( and the Internet High School ( were highlighted for workshop participants located in Vancouver on Wednesday, March 15.

The online workshop was hosted as a pre-conference event during the 2006 National Conference on Community Ecomonic Development & the Social Economy being held in Vancouver this week.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Office of Learning Technologies (OLT) provided workshop participants with an opportunity for two of their funded Community Learning Networks from British Columbia and Keewaytinook Okimakanak in northern Ontario to share information about their local applications. The highlighted work has involved working with community members to build learning networks supported by Information Communications Technologies (ICT). The entire four hour session was archived and is available online.

Click here to visit the Pre-Conference Workshop site and check out the actual session.

KO team participates in Connecting Aboriginal Canadians gathering in Ottawa

Brian Walmark, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute Coordinator and Brian Beaton, K-Net Coordinator are in Ottawa to participate in this year's Connecting Aboriginal Canadians conference.

The background papers that have been posted on the conference agenda web site at are addressing some very important issues and questions. The four panel discussions are about determining appropriate policies and identifying effective strategies for the Aboriginal connectivity agenda that will be moving forward.

 Some of the questions and reference material that INAC officials are presenting as the options are included below. There are many other approaches to this work that has been demonstrated over the past few years. Hopefully the people who have been invited to this gathering will sound the alarm about this centralized approached to “taking care of the problem”.

 2006 National Aboriginal Connectivity and E-Services Forum - March 13, 14, 2006, Ottawa, ON

"Sustainable Aboriginal Connectivity as an engine for Social and Economic Growth”


Community Economic Development On-Line Year in Review - Framework for Progress

“The multiplying number of Aboriginal dedicated databases is creating confusion among users and a reduction in ease of use and efficient navigation. This may be resolved by developing a single location registry point for all Indigenous dedicated databases” - 2004 e-strategy blueprint

CEDOL Next Steps

  • Seek approval from Aboriginal stakeholders to proceed.
  • Establish an Aboriginal Canada Portal and Connectivity Working Group – Community Ec Dev Sub-Committee and develop work plan to:
    • Facilitate process to support collaboration and exchange of information that will engage multiple stakeholders. E.g. 2010 Olympic Games
    • Oversee development of on-line tools, models.
    • Identify connectivity solutions that work.
    • Initiate policy development processes and initiatives to identify and address gaps.
    • Share work plan and develop Internal/External stakeholder partnerships
    • Secure Resources for CEDOL

 From Aboriginal E-Government and Services “Draft” Overview at$file/Aboriginal_egov_presentation.pdf 

Key Aboriginal Connectivity and e-services Investment questions

  • Do you agree with key Aboriginal Connectivity and e-services priorities (ie infrastructure, operating costs, community capacity and coordination/partnerships)

Aboriginal e-government and services questions/next steps

  1.  Were you reasonably comfortable with overview presentation. Should a more detailed paper be developed. Would you help?
  2. Should we elevate/enhance Aboriginal single window to the first level of the Canada Site (with business, international, and Canadians)
  3. Should we formalize and strengthen a horizontal federal-aboriginal connectivity and e-services governance framework and how do we link regional efforts
  4. How do we enable communities to keep and make full use of data (interoperability).
  5. Do Aboriginal communities and organizations require information management capacity
  6. How do we include and forge linkages between communities and Urban Aboriginal residents
  7. How do we ensure FN, Inuit and Metis specific strategies and functionality.

From  Sustainable Broadband Connectivity in Aboriginal Communities at$file/Sustainability_Summary_Presentation.pdf 

 Federal-Aboriginal Coordination:

  •  National, regional and community connectivity and e-service coordination
  • Integrated Aboriginal single window e-services and partnership e-tools


  • Are the primary element of the sustainability solution:
    • Broadband operating expenses
    • Technical capacity
    • Others?
  • Is there a need for special Aboriginal measures for broadband operating expenses and technical capacity
  • Should Federal Departments and Aboriginal Stakeholders work together to better coordinate Aboriginal connectivity and e-services?
  • Is there a need for full or fractional time technical support knowledge in Aboriginal communities?
  • At what level should technical support be provided? (1 or 2 people per community, 2 people per 6 communities)
  • Are there other elements broadband sustainability that need to be addressed?