Keewaytinook Okimakanak

KO wraps up strategic IT planning session with NOSM IT Director

Kevin Pashuk, IT Director at NOSM, spent two days at the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Sioux Lookout office discussing IT development strategies with members of the K-Net team. Tom Terry, NOSM's Aboriginal Community Placement Officer for the Sioux Lookout Zone joined the meeting on Tuesday afternoon and evening. The information sharing and planning sessions resulted in the K-Net team planning to submit a proposal to NOSM's IT unit to facilitate the development and maintenance of connectivity services in the Aborginal communities that are hosting the first year medical students in their first year of studies at NOSM.

Click here to see some pictures from these meetings.

Online Digital Libraries for and with Aboriginal communities workshop - Nov 25

EVERYONE is invited to participate in this online workshop by joining the webcast of the event and sharing your thoughts and questions through the chat feature on the webstreaming server. Click here for more information about participating in this day long workshop web site.

The Faculty of Information Studies (FIS) at the University of Toronto is partnering with Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) to organize a day-long workshop on "Digital Libraries for and with Aboriginal communities". The workshop is being held on Friday November 25th, 2005, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm (EST). The workshop is devoted to discussing the best possible models for providing information resources and services to the communities in the remote areas of Northern Ontario. The aim is to devise a strategy to create a digital library for elementary and secondary school students. Such a digital library would serve all remote and isolated communities in Ontario's far north and even those outside of the membership of KO....

The workshop will be a hybrid of physical and virtual (via video conference) meetings with two main nodes: one at the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto, and the other in the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) offices . There will be meeting sites in Sudbury, Ottawa and other northern communities. The participants at the various nodes will interact through IP videoconferencing. Everyone else interested in participating in this workshop can watch, listen and share your thoughts, questions and suggestions through the online chat service available on webstreaming server.

Click here for a copy of the agenda.

Click here to test your connections for participating online.

KO installs diesel generator building to protect network operations and services

A diesel generator, capable of ensuring the Kuhkenah Network (K-Net) is able to continue operating in case of local power outages, is being installed at the Keewaytinook Okimakanak building in Sioux Lookout. The building that will house this generator is now under construction.


Click here to watch the construction and installation of this new resource.

KORI staff host display at National Aboriginal Health Organization gathering

Wesley McKay and Franz Seibel travelled to Ottawa to join other researchers at the National Aboriginal Health Organization's conference this week.

The focus of the meeting was Aboriginal Health Research and was highlighted by the the release of NAHO's Regional Health Survey (RHS).  The principals of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) are the cornerstone of NAHO's community-based research agenda.

The survey consists of community-based and owned research. Data Warrior was a term coined to describe those dedicated to protecting First Nations Information and upholding the First Nations Principals of OCAP. The Minister of State (Public Health), the Honourable Carolyn Bennett PC, MP spoke of a health care system that was not a repair shop for sick people but that health consits of living a healthly life, helping your neighbor and building strong communities. The presiding elder spoke of looking to your left and right to greet and love your neighbor. Willie Ermine discussed Ethical Space, a space between two individuals that needs to be considered when two people meet, whether it be for research or other purposes. That space needs to be filled with respect, friendship and a reciprocal relationship when conducting research. 

Jim Dumont discussed how a standard has been created to rate the health of First Nations in a western fashion. However he suggested that an aboriginal standard of health be created which includes physical, mental, cultural and emotional health. He also coined the phrase "indigenoscity". Other sessions included the experiences of the RHS on establishing a research model, ethics committee and best research practices. A workshop discussing research in Elsipogtog FN, NB echoed the best practices of the RHS committee and added many others. 

During the gathering, Wes and Franz manned a display booth celebrating the work of KO, especially K-Net, KOTH and KO Health. Wes and Franz are expecting a series of follow up meetings between KO and other First Nations health organizations. To see pictures from the conference click here

KO team shares their IP telephone business case findings

The IP telephone business case produced by the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI - for K-Net's IP Telephone project is now available on-line. This IP telephone project is supported with funding from Industry Canada's FedNor program. Click here to see the entire IP telephone business case (PDF - 1.9Mb).

The K-Net Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone network is an internal telephone system linking data telephones across the region. The IP telephone network was developed as a result of community demand, the community broadband network, band and tribal council leadership initiative and funding through a number of partners. It is an application built on the existing Kuhkenah Network (K-Net). The long-term objective of K-Net is to support a wide-area network (WAN) of local community networks linked across the country to other networks that share and distribute broadband services and programs benefitting local communities. See for more information about how this service works and for IP telephone contact extension numbers.

The objective of the IP telephony network is to compliment the analogue network with IP phones using data lines in locations where the majority of calls are made to locations within the network. Calls made to Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Wabigoon, Balmertown, Cochenour and Red Lake are now considered local calls. Also a call made from one network registered data phone to another is a local call. Using data lines for these calls significantly reduces long distance costs and increase usage and viability of the community network’s data service. This new telephone network is now operational in five of KO’s affiliated communities and Slate Falls First Nation. See Appendix A for a case study of the new Slate Falls IP telephone network and their local Application Service Provider that was created to manage it and the other data connection applications. Telephone network access is now available in all the major service centres in the KO affiliated communities and in KO’s administrative offices. In October 2005 there were over 230 registered phones and over 100 voice mail accounts.

The IP telephony network infrastructure, and management structure was created as a result of Industry Canada’s FedNor Demonstration Project to provide Internet Protocol Telephone over a private network. Some of the key deliverables within this project includes:

  • Install 30 IP telephones in the various community programs each of KO’s 5 First Nations and 60 phones in KO administration offices of Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Balmertown.
  • Compare long distance telephone usage and costs to those of the same period the previous year, for a sample of First Nations and the KO offices in order to identify savings.
  • Train a community technician to install, maintain and provide local technical support to the local IP telephone system and its users.
  • Produce a business case and model IP telephone deployment plan to be shared with neighbouring First Nations and agencies to assist them in assessing the merits of using IP telephone services.

The purpose of the business case is to outline the development process of creating and maintaining sustainable community IP telephone local area networks (LAN). It is now being posted on-line so interested First Nation communities and their service agencies might evaluate the benefits of establishing and utilizing an IP telephone network and other broadband applications made available through local community data networks.

Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI) and Community Network Technicians (CNTs) collected the Bell Canada long distance telephone bills of the three main service centres in five KO affiliated communities. The data suggests that between 2003 and 2005 the use of the LAN demonstrated an average cost savings of 30% in long distance charges. The savings can be attributed to lower long distance rates and the use of the broadband network as staff can now use e-mail, videoconference and IP phones as a substitute to using an analogue phone line. Because the new IP telephone service is still under development it is unclear what portion of that savings can be attributed to the IP telephones. However by calculating the substitution rate, (the current number of analogue long distance calls that could be made between data phones) it can be determined what long distance savings can be expected as the network is fully utilized. The average substitution rate for KO’s communities is 85% for the clinic, 40% for the band office and 45% for the school.

KO staff attends UN's World Summit of Information Society gathering in Tunis

Angie Fiddler, KO's Youth Employment Coordinator, is in Tunis attending the United Nation's second World Summit of the Information Society. Jesse Fiddler attended the first WSIS gathering in Geneva in December 2003. Angie is documenting her experience on her web site at

Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet requested proposals from Aboriginal youth from across Canada to attend this event and the Global Forum of Indigenous People. Angie submitted her proposal which was accepted along with five other First Nation youth from across Canada.

For more information about the World Summit of the Information Society visit their official site at

KO representative attends AFN Economic Forum in Calgary

K-Net's Network Manager, Dan Pellerin, is in Calgary attending the Assembly of First Nations Economic Forum. He is participating in the forum to map out a First Nations economic development position to be carried to the First Ministers' Meeting at the end of November in Kelowna, BC. One important message is the need for First Nations to be adequately funded to deliver quality education and health services in their own communities. Click here is see the AFN Economic Forum program agenda (PDF document).

FedNor team effectively uses video conferencing to announce ICT program funding

Read the Sioux Bulletin coverage of this announcement at: (K-Net named regional champion in broadband and ICT infrastructure funding) and (People around the world recognize K-Net's expertise)

Six Members of Parliament from across Northern Ontario (from Huntsville in the Muskoka region to Sioux Lookout in the Kenora riding) met together this afternoon along with community groups to announce a new $10 million for the development of ICT applications that will use the broadband connections being established from the $10 million FedNor announcement last year for making sure that EVERY community in northern Ontario is connected to a broadband infrastructure. Along with this announcement funding for four regional champion organizations was also announced to support small communities to get the necessary broadband infrastructure in place.

Click here to see the pictures of Roger Valley, MP for Kenora Riding in the K-Net office in Sioux Lookout for the announcement. It was also mentioned during this announcement that Roger is now the northern Ontario caucus chair.

Video conferencing services were coordinated by Contact North who bridged the meeting that connected with the Kuhkenah Network (Sioux Lookout office) as well as bringing in MP Ken Boshcoff from the FedNor office in Ottawa. The use of video conferencing proved very successful, appropriate and significant for this particular announcement. Everyone got to see the value in bringing groups together from across the region.

From the FedNor press releases at ...

FedNor Announces Northern Ontario Broadband Champions and Information Technology Commitment

HUNTSVILLE, Ontario, October 28, 2005 —The Honourable Andy Mitchell, Minister of State (FedNor), together with Northern Ontario Members of Parliament linked by videoconference, today announced FedNor support of more than $1.8M ($1,820,775) to four regional non-profit organizations that will champion the development of broadband services and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) throughout Northern Ontario. The choice of the regional champions represents a significant step forward in the $10-million FedNor commitment, announced April 22nd, 2005, to bring broadband access to every community in Northern Ontario.

Minister Mitchell also announced that FedNor will commit a further $10 million in funding over the next three years to support applications that make effective use of the broadband network. Such applications could include distance education and videoconferencing, telehealth suites for distant patient consultations, Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) that store and distribute digital scans and X-rays, and online financial networking and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for local governments and emergency services.

“The selection of these regional champions continues FedNor’s efforts to extend broadband availability throughout Northern Ontario,” said Minister Mitchell. “As well, the commitment of $10 million to foster applications will make sure that this broadband access is put to the fullest and best possible use. Both these announcements demonstrate that the Government of Canada is dedicated to investing in technology that enhances the ability of all residents to interact, transact, learn, access critical information and services, and improve their economic and social well being.”

The four non-profit champion organizations selected through a competitive process are: the Blue Sky Economic Growth Corporation (BSEGC), serving an area from Manitoulin Island to North Bay, which will receive $499,675; the Northeastern Ontario Communications Network Inc.(NEOnet), serving Cochrane and Timiskaming Districts and west to Chapleau, which will receive $498,000; K-Net, the ITC division of Keewatinook Okimakanak Tribal Council, serving First Nations across Northern Ontario, which will receive $472,000; and the Muskoka Community Network (MCN), serving the Parry Sound and Muskoka area, which will receive $351,100. The champions will cooperate in making sure all currently unserviced communities, both within and outside their respective service areas, receive broadband access.

In each case, the regional champion will undertake a number of initiatives, including the identification of broadband gaps, support for ICT application initiatives, and the coordination of the development of broadband services in unserved or under-serviced areas. The champions will work with communities, governments and other organizations along with the private sector to develop cost-effective and sustainable broadband solutions capable of fostering education, health, government, and business applications. They will also assist communities and rural businesses without broadband access to install and deploy necessary infrastructure for backbone connections that bring the service to a community, referred to as Points of Presence (PoPs). It is estimated that slightly more than 75 communities in Northern Ontario currently have no access to broadband service.

The spread of broadband in Canada and Northern Ontario is helping businesses in smaller communities and remote areas enter the global economy, research market data and offer specialized products and services to a large marketplace.

In Northern Ontario, health networks such as the NORTH Network are accelerating the exchange of medical data between hospitals, clinics and doctors, and allowing consultations and patient diagnosis over vast distances. Additionally, FedNor has supported the implementation of Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) that store and distribute digital scans and X-rays in over 40 hospitals across Northern Ontario.

Since 1999, FedNor has contributed $49.6 million toward “connectedness” projects, including $23.1 million for telecommunications infrastructure and networking projects, and $26.5 million toward information and communications technology (ICT) applications, promotion and development. As well as working closely with the Broadband for Rural and Northern Development Pilot Program (BRAND) and First Nations SchoolNet, FedNor itself in the last eight years has established Points of Presence serving more than 100 Northern Ontario communities.

Funding for this initiative was provided for in the February 2005 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing fiscal framework.

To find out more about FedNor, visit us at:

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For more information, please contact:

Graeme Wilkes
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Andy Mitchell
Minister of State (FedNor)
(613) 947-5850

David Frood
Communications Officer
(807) 766-1820 or 1 877 333-6673

K-Net team explores the use of Ka-Band satellite services

As part of Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program, the K-Net team in Sioux Lookout now has a Ka-band system operating at the office. Initial tests are showing a 500Kb outbound capacity and 2M inbound as promised in the promotional material. The first unit installed at a First Nation school was in Kashechewan last month but there has been some challenges in keeping their unit operational. With a unit now located at the Sioux Lookout helpdesk, we hope to better support the schools that might get this equipment. Jamie Ray and John Moreau are testing and exploring this equipment and its support services to determine the best way to support the schools.

Click here is to see pictures of the present set up.

KO presentation at CANDO national conference in Sault Ste Marie

The K-Net Story is scheduled to be presented at the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) National Conference being held this week in Sault Ste Marie. Click here for more information about the conference.

Click here for a PDF handout of the K-Net Story presentation