TORONTO – Ontario has reaffirmed its commitment to fostering educational equality by renewing funding for the Connected North program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at enhancing educational opportunities for students in 55 remote Indigenous schools. This announcement, made Friday in collaboration with TakingITGlobal (TIG) and Cisco Canada, brings the provincial government’s total investment to nearly $2 million over the past two years. The funding ensures the continuation of live, interactive virtual learning sessions tailored for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students during the 2023-24 school year.
Last school year, 95 per cent of teachers who responded to an annual program survey stated that Connected North sessions helped to engage their students, contributed to attendance in class and provided motivation for learning.
“As we continue on our journey of making reconciliation real, our government is committed to ensuring equitable access to education for Indigenous students regardless of where they live or go to school.” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Government of Ontario. “Ensuring a more prosperous future for the next generation starts with overcoming barriers to education, and we are proud to support the Connected North program.”
Dedication to Digital Equity: Ontario Government Renews Funding for 55 Schools in Indigenous Communities
Aligned with the Ontario curriculum, the Connected North program facilitates virtual learning sessions, providing students and teachers with unique opportunities and resources. These sessions, delivered by Indigenous educators and mentors, focus on Indigenous content, fostering cultural awareness and academic growth.
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Government of Ontario, emphasized, “This investment will connect Indigenous students to programs that strengthen fundamental skills like reading, writing, and math in remote communities. Through this investment, our government reaffirms its dedication to keeping students in-class with new resources to expand learning and prepare students for the jobs of the future.”
Empowering Indigenous Education: Connected North Enhances Learning Through Virtual Sessions and Indigenous Mentorship
Founded by Cisco Canada, Connected North utilizes state-of-the-art technology to provide live, interactive virtual learning experiences.
Connected North is a breakthrough in distance education in Canada. Named as one of the world’s leading and most innovative education programs by the globally recognized HundrED organization and selected as a finalist for the international WISE Awards, it now serves 35,000 students in 150 schools in northern communities and offers over 2,000 unique virtual learning experiences for students and teachers. The program focuses on building success for students in school and in life through:
- Indigenous role models and mentoring to build hope and pride
- Career exploration and Future Pathways programming
- Virtual field trips to museums, science centres
- Language revitalization
- Arts and culture
- Mental wellness
- Professional development workshops and training for teachers
These sessions cover a diverse array of subjects, from language revitalization and arts to mental wellness and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Indigenous role models and mentors play a pivotal role in building hope and pride among students, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
Shannon Leininger, President of Cisco Canada, expressed pride in the program’s impact, stating, “We are incredibly proud of Connected North’s positive impact on students. This partnership with the Government of Ontario and TakingITGlobal strengthens our dedication to fulfilling this vital mission, and together we are on the road to create even greater impact in the communities that need it the most.”
A Decade of Impact: Celebrating 10 Years of Connected North’s Educational Excellence
This funding announcement coincides with Connected North’s 10th-anniversary celebration in October. Looking forward, the program is committed to expanding its reach, with the goal of serving 300 schools by 2030. The program’s success is made possible through ongoing support from corporate partners, government entities, foundations, and private donors, ensuring that students in remote and Indigenous communities have the necessary resources to thrive.
- The Government of Ontario will renew funding for the Connected North program in 55 schools in Indigenous communities for the 2023-24 school year, bringing its total investment to nearly $2 million in two years.
- Aligned to the Ontario curriculum, Connected North offers virtual learning sessions that provide students and teachers with opportunities and resources, with a focus on Indigenous content delivered by Indigenous educators and mentors.
- The funding announcement reinforces Ontario’s dedication to achieving equity of opportunity for students in remote Indigenous communities.