Matawa Welcomes Funding for Fibre-to-the-home Broadband Internet

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Major announcement for Increased Fibre Internet for Matawa
FedNor Minister Bains announces new funding under Connect to Innovate for Matawa Communities
FedNor Minister Bains announces new funding under Connect to Innovate for Matawa Communities

$37.8 Million for Fibre Broadband Backbone for Matawa Communities

THUNDER BAY – Matawa First Nations today welcomed funding commitments to assist in bringing state of the art fibre-to-the-home high-speed broadband to internet dead spots in 5 fly-in/remote First Nations as follows:

  • $37.1 million announced by The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) through the Connect to Innovate Initiative launched by ISED on December 15, 2016
  • $30 million in partner funds from the Government of Ontario announced by The Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North
  • $2.14 million from Indigenous and Northern Affairs to conduct an archaeological investigation in support of the project announced by The Honourable Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River

The funding will be allocated to Rapid Lynx, a regional telecommunications company established by the Matawa First Nations in January 2017 to build and administer an 881 km fibre-optic cable network connecting the remote communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Webequie, Eabametoong and Marten Falls together and to existing carrier locations near Wunnummin Lake and Aroland First Nations.

Minister Bains states that under the “Last Mile” part of the project that this effort will ensure that the high speed fibre Internet will be available at a very affordable price per home of about $75.00.

“Internet access is not an essential part of everyday life,” stated the Minister. “We can no longer consider high-speed Internet a luxury”.

Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, announced the Province will invest up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management Inc. to bring modern fibre-optic cable to the area. The project will see the installation of buried cable from Wunnumin Lake through the five Matawa-member communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations, connecting south to Aroland First Nation.

Minister Gravelle says, “By investing in broadband infrastructure that will bring high speed Internet to Matawa-member First Nations, Ontario will help improve the quality of life of residents by increasing fairness and opportunity for everyone. Our government recognizes that the availability of high speed Internet infrastructure is critical for economic development and access to important resources and services such as health care and education.”

The Government of Canada is also providing $2.1 million for this project through its First Nation Infrastructure Fund through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, a program that helps advance public infrastructure to improve the quality of life and the environment for First Nation communities.

“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns. Our First Nation community members will benefit in so many ways. Connectivity is crucial to their well-being. Better services through broadband fibre optic construction will eliminate the digital divide between our First Nations and the rest of the world. It will facilitate greater efficiencies in the delivery of First Nation services, including access to health and education technologies and practices, grants and programs, family and court services, banking and credit services and the gamut of other opportunities that high-speed internet provides,” says David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management

“In 2012 the United Nations declared access to Internet a basic human right. The Internet is a powerful tool for accelerating knowledge and wealth. Rapid Lynx Telecommunications will design and build the entire network from end-to-end to be a “Next Generation” Fibre-to-the-Home network that will support increased demand, large applications, real-time interactive imaging for telemedicine, modeling and We simulation, pre-and post-production for high-quality video that will meet our First Nations needs. This is truly a transformational, ground-breaking, life-saving and life-changing project for the Matawa communities,” comments Jason Rasevych, Economic Development Advisor, Matawa/Rapid Lynx Representative.

Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum welcomes the investment
Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum welcomes the investment

“For us this day is going down in history,” says Marten Falls Chief Achneeppineskum. “There will be a need for broadband, and I am pleased that these governments have come together to see the importance of this project”.

Without the broadband we are receiving with this project we could not participate in opportunities”, added Chief Achneeppineskum.

Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan
Eabametoong FN Chief Elizabeth Atlookan

Eabametoong First Nation Chief Atlookan stated that the importance of Internet in the North is increasingly critical.

“When it comes to important initiative for First Nations communities, we need to be on the same footing as the rest of Canada,” said Chief Atlookan. “The first subject at our first meeting was that of broadband. Many possibilities have opened up”.

The Chief spoke on how critical this announcement is for her community. The healthcare crisis is one area this project will help.

 

Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonias said, “This announcement will benefit our young people and improve the quality of their lives”.

“It is the hard work of our people that has allowed us to do these things. This is about building true partnerships, and we have to be true partners”.

Rapid Lynx’s network design and electronics specifications will provide capacity, reliability, and speed for today and for the long-term and will be based on the First Mile approach to network infrastructure development which includes local broadband ownership and control over local telecom networks and infrastructure. The First Mile work will ensure every home, business, and organization in these 5 First Nations are connected to the community-owned fibre network first.

The construction project will migrate the community-owned networks off the existing satellite-network to the regional-network that will be built as another part of the project. It will be subject to an environmental assessment. Both the construction and operational phases of the project will mean employment for First Nation members across the Matawa region and local businesses that support this work. The announcement comes after 5 years of lobbying and a recent application submitted this past April.

Matawa First Nation Management is a leader in many different development initiatives. Our project management teams construct buildings, roads, water and sewer systems, education and training programs, health services, incubate community-owned development corporations and regional business ventures among others and now, with the support of the federal and provincial governments— is able to build, own and maintain a state-of-the-art fibre-optic broadband network through our telecommunications company Rapid Lynx.

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