Keewaytinook Okimakanak

KO meeting with new First Nations SchoolNet managers - A Success!

The KO team at the AFN meeting in Ottawa led by Geordi Kakepetum shared success stories and challenged the new managers of First Nations SchoolNet to ensure that the program grows and prospers.

The Keewaytinook Okimakanak team took some time to meet with the new INAC managers of First Nations SchoolNet. KO’s Geordi Kakepetum and Brian Walmark shared the successes, hopes and challenges faced by K-Net, the Regional Management Organization (RMO) for Ontario. Geordi told those around the table about how First Nations SchoolNet, in particular the access to broadband and the applications, have changed the learning opportunities available for students in remote and isolated First Nations Schools.

First Nations SchoolNet is being transferred from Industry Canada to the Department of Indian Affairs as part of an overall restructuring initiative to make INAC responsible for all economic development on-reserve.

During the friendly and informal meeting, Geordi outlined to Juliet Balfour, the Director of Socio-Economic Policy and Regional Operations (Education Branch) and Barbara Caverhill, her Senior Policy Manager, several key challenges that require attention from the Department. He said to maintain the access and applications used by teachers and students in First Nations schools across Canada First Nations, it was essential that funding be restored to levels before recent cutbacks. "We can’t afford to provide the schools with the resources they need for upgrades in software and hardware," he told the INAC officials.

Geordi emphasized that it was critical that decision-makers at the community level must know that First Nations SchoolNet will continue after the end of the fiscal year. He feared that without an official announcement from Canada many First Nations Schools would have to advise the telecom providers that they could no longer afford broadband fees in the new fiscal year. "Many people are not aware that First Nations SchoolNet has been transferred to INAC or even know that the program will continue."

Juliet Balfour, INAC’s new First Nations SchoolNet Manager said it would be difficult to make an announcement until funding receives final approval. She said her department is seeking the authority to run First Nations SchoolNet for two years. During which time, INAC will go to Treasury Board to get the necessary authorities to transform it into a permanent program. She assured Geordi that she would determine what kind of announcement her department could make in the interim.

Geordi emphasized the importance of the Regional Management Orgnizations (RMOs) and how they were responsible for the rapid migration of broadband to almost every First Nation School in Canada that wanted it. "This is a big country. Each region is different. The RMOs know the challenges faced in their regions and they know the players. That’s why we can get things done." He added that there is a lot of sharing that takes place between the RMOs such as the video bootcamp created by the RMO in Atlantic Canada which was available on-line for First Nations participants across Canada.

Joe Poirier of IHAB had just returned from a tour of Ontario’s far north and reported what he had seen with the Keewaytinook Interent High School and G8, the grade supplementary on-line program in literacy, mathematics and science, two applications created by K-Net as part of First Nations SchoolNet. "Because of KiHS, young people in the north can get a high quality education without having to leave their families and go to high schools in the south." He said he could see how engaged KiHS students are in the classroom. Brian Walmark added that KiHS is currently being evaluated by a professor from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). "His preliminary findings sound very favourable," he said. Geordi pledged to provide the INAC officials a copy of the evaluation as soon as it was available.

Geordi invited the two INAC officials to come to Balmertown where they could see for themselves KiHS in action and some of the other applications created as a result of First Nations SchoolNet. Juliet Balfour and Barbara Caverhill said they would check their schedules to determine if they had any dates in January available for a visit.

Juliet said that she needs to have the successes of First Nations SchoolNet, the activity of the RMOs and K-Net in particular documented so that she can use them to lever the kinds of the funds the program needs to continue. The K-Net team recommended that INAC sponsor a face-to-face meeting in the new year of all of the RMOs where each could present its success stories. It would also provide the new INAC managers with the opportunity to meet all of the key players at the RMOs. In the interim, Juliet pledged to either participate or have members of her staff participate in the monthly on-line meetings of the RMOs.

Following the breakfast briefing, Brian Walmark provided Juliet Balfour and Barbara Caverhill with an on-line tour of the K-Net website. He showed them some of the digital video produced by community youth and some of the other applications made possible with funding from First Nations SchoolNet. "This program puts tools in the hands of people," he told them.

Juliet Balfour expressed great interest in what other areas beyond education could be served by broadband in First Nations communities such as health and economic development. The KO team told her about Jesse Fiddler who worked at K-Net for many years before taking his skills back with his family to Sandy Lake First Nation where he has created a thriving IT business serving clients on and off-reserve.

To see photos of the meeting between the KO team and First Nations School as well as other pictures taken at the AFN meeting in Ottawa, Click here ...

KO Chiefs meet in Winnipeg

The Chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak are meeting in Winnipeg for their annual December chiefs' meeting. As the board of directors of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, the chiefs direct the ongoing development and operation of their tribal council on behalf of their First Nations. Click here to check out the pictures from the meeting.

KO staff are in attendance to provide reports and support the chiefs in their work.

On Wednesday, the chiefs will be meeting with other members of the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN - to discuss the development of this initiative.

Operating a Small Business in Your Community: Online Workshop

All are welcome to joing the next Online Economic Development Workshop with Darcy + Susan's Gas

November 30, 2006  9:30-11:00AM (CST)

Darcy and Susan Kejick are the owners and operators of Darcy and Susan’s Gas in North Spirit Lake First Nation. They have received awards from NADF for Youth Entrepreneur and Partnership (2005). Recently they received a business plan award regarding the expansion of their business to include a grocery store. The Kejicks will share the story of how the business was started, some tips for community entrepreneurs and the vision they have for the future of the business. Come and ask Darcy and Susan about starting or expanding your small business.

Please book your video conference site.

Contact: Terry Moreau Phone: 877.737.5638 X 1266


Visit the website for more information, live webstream, archived sessions, links and resources.

Sonic Playground - another classroom resource for teachers, schools and students

Want to add some creative sound effects to your next drama production in your classroom? Do you want to make music using different materials that you can find around your community?

On Saturday Nov 25, members of the K-Net team hosted a video conference introduction to another online teaching resource called the Sonic Playground - The professional development session is intended to be the first in a series of education program strategies that can be supported in classrooms across the province.

The session was hosted by Lyle Johnson (K-Net, Sioux Lookout) and Terry Moreau (Youth IT worker at KORI in Thunder Bay). A group of education professionals from the Martin McKay School in Sachigo Lake participated in this initial information session. Two of the members of Sonic Playground, Barbara  Bryce, and Leslie Wyber introduced their program.

They presented strategies for identifying methods of using everyday items to create musical instruments that can be used to make sound effects for story telling and musical productions.

The team at Sonic Playground are interested in putting together a full program for delivery to First Nation Schools across the province via video conferencing technology with participation from several remote locations.

This initial one hour information session was webcast and archived making it available for online viewing at (Windows Media).

For more information about this valuable classroom resource, visit the Sonic Playground web site at

KO team meets with regional IT partners in Thunder Bay

Meetings in Thunder Bay with a number of different partners involved in building and sustaining Information Technology networks across the region took place on Wednesday, Nov 22.

At the airports (Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay), informal discussions with members of the McMaster / Sioux Lookout doctors team members is resulting in further discussions around the growth of telehealth services and the network for applications including public health program development and delivery.

At the KORI office (, Carl Seibel, FedNor Telecom Project Officer met with KO team members (Geordi, Brian Walmark, Franz and Brian Beaton) to discuss current initiatives and future IT opportunities and requirements.

At Confederation College, representatives from the college (Paul, Brent, Claire, Brian), Contact North (Pat via video conference), NOSM (Pasi), Keewatin Patricia Board of Education (Del), Rainy River Board of Education (Steven), ORANO (Phil, Ron), Northern Development and Mines (Randy), FedNor (Carl) and KO (Brian) met to discuss strategies for developing the ORION Research and Education fibre connections across the region. Regrets from Lakehead University and the Superior Greenstone Board reps were expressed.

After the folks from ORANO left, a number of people involved in Economic Development across the region joined the meeting to discuss strategies for "completing the job of making sure EVERY community in northern Ontario has access to broadband connections and applications". Northern Development and Mines is now looking to complete this work within their new mandate.

Later at the Valhalla, team KO team (Geordi and Brian) met with the new president and CEO of Thunder Bay Telephone (Peter Diedrich) to discuss possible partnership opportunities.

COO Health rep meets KO Telehealth team in Balmertown and Sioux Lookout

Lily Menominee-Batise is the Chiefs of Ontario's First Nations and Inuit Regional Health Information Systems Coordinator, who is tasked with developing Ontario's e-health delivery strategy.

Lily travelled to Balmertown on Monday, Nov 20 to meet with Donna Williams and her telehealth team to learn and share information concerning the telehealth work that is taking place across the region.

On Thursday, Lily travelled to Sioux Lookout to learn about the IT network side of operation and the developments that are taking place affecting getting all First Nation health facilities and organizations across Ontario onto a broadband connection with video conferencing capabilities.

Chiefs of Ontario pass resolutions supporting KO Telehealth and broadband connections


At last week's Chiefs of Ontario assembly, resolutions supporting the development and delivery of telehealth services and the necessary broadband connections to support telehealth applications were passed. These resolutions moved forward by two chiefs from Keewaytinook Okimakanak and supported by the chiefs in assembly.

The two resolutions are:

    • MOVED BY: Chief Royal Meekis, Deer Lake First Nation
    • SECONDED BY: Chief Tom Bressette, Kettle & Stoney Point First Nation
    • MOVED BY: Chief Joe Meekis, Keewaywin First Nation
    • SECONDED BY: Chief Arthur Moore, Constance Lake First Nation

Click here for copies of these two resolutions (PDF document) as they were presented to the chiefs for their consideration.

KO hosts online sharing and live Business & Economic Development sessions

The Keewaytinook Okimakanak team hosted the first in a series of live video conferenced and online Business and Economic Development information sessions on Thursday, Nov 16. For more information about these sessions visit and join the online discussions (found under Public Works -> Economic Development Workshops)

The first session, Proposal Writing Tips, included participants from Attawapiskat, Keewayin, North Spirit Lake, Thunder Bay and Balmertown. Click here to watch the archived session (uses windows media).

Industry Canada First Nations SchoolNet & FedNor visit KO & First Nations

Three days of meetings and visits provided visitors from Industry Canada with a good overview about the importance of broadband connectivity for the people across northwestern Ontario. The visitors included:

  • Carl Seibel, Telecom Officer with FedNor in Thunder Bay,
  • Joe Poirier, First Nations SchoolNet Project Officer in Ottawa
  • Dan Winters, Broadband Program Technical Advisor in Ottawa

The visit agenda included a whirlwind visit to Slate Falls and North Caribou Lake First Nation on Wednesday to meet with the folks at the band offices, health centres and schools in each of these First Nations. Both communities were gracious hosts, providing us with clear directions to further develop opportunities for their local development of infrastructure and bandwidth. Click here to check out some of the pictures from this trip.

A four minute video of this trip, called "Learning about Broadband Uses in Slate Falls and Weagamow First Nations" was produced by Cal Kenny, K-Net's Multimedia Producer. This video can be viewed at

Meetings and tours were also held with

  • the Youth Workers who were attending their training workshop in Sioux Lookout
  • the Atlantic Regional Management Organization to discuss the development and importance of the First Nation regional networks and their role in supporting the communities
  • the Sioux Lookout local infrastructure of the Kuhkenah Network and all the staff members
  • Pelican Falls First Nations High School
  • Keewaytinook Internet High School
  • Wahsa Distance Education Centre

Thanks to one and all who supported the KO team in helping to welcome our visits to this special part of northern Ontario!

First Nation youth gather in Sioux Lookout to share and learn IT skills

Youth workers from 25 different First Nations across northern Ontario came together this week in Sioux Lookout to further develop their IT skills. Lead by Angus Miles (Fort Severn) and Jesse Fiddler (Sandy Lake) this week's training workshop provided everyone with the opportunity to meet each other and share their stories and experiences.

Click here to check out the pictures from this gathering.

Click here to visit the Youth Workers online training and sharing meeting space. (requires registration)

The IT Youth Worker employment project is coordinated by Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-Net Services with funding support from Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet program and HRSDC. Marie Carson, Darlene Rae and Jeannie Carpenter are working together to support the Youth Workers and the training coordinators from across Ontario.

Participants in this week's training workshop include:

  • Attawapiskat Nation - Jean Okimaw
  • Bearskin Lake First Nation - Yvonne Kamenawatamin
  • Constance Lake - Norman J Sutherland
  • Deer Lake First Nation - Curtis Rae
  • Fort Severn First Nation - Lyle Thomas
  • Garden River First Nation - Lisabeth Boissoneau
  • Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation (Shoal Lake No 39) - Kelly Blackhorse
  • Kasabonika Lake First Nation - Allison Anderson
  • Keewaywin First Nation - Jason Kakegamic
  • Kingfisher Lake First Nation - Terry Mamakwa
  • Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation (Big Trout Lake) - Robinson Hudson
  • Lac Seul First Nation - Adam Gordon
  • M'Chigeeng First Nation (West Bay FN) - Richard Debassige
  • New Slate Falls Nation - Desmond Roundhead
  • North Caribou Lake Nation (Weagamow Lake) - Derek Kanate
  • North Spirit Lake First Nation - Corey Rae
  • Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation - Shawn Kelly
  • Pikangikum First Nation  - Gavin Turtle
  • Poplar Hill First Nation - Zachariah Suggashie
  • Sachigo Lake First Nation - Angus Miles - Trainer
  • Sachigo Lake First Nation - Maria Mckay
  • Sandy Lake First Nation -  Curtis Drake
  • Sandy Lake First Nation - Jesse Fiddler - Trainer
  • Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation - Tim Gardner
  • Webequie First Nation - Leah Wabasse