Construction has begun on a fibre-to-the-home project that will bring access to high-speed internet to more than 500 households in six Indigenous communities: Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation’s Skwah 4 and Skwali 3; Cook’s Ferry Indian Band’s Entlqwekkinh19 and Kloklowuck 7; Squamish Nation’s Cheakamus 11; and Upper Nicola Band’s Nicola Lake 1.
“We are focused on working closely with communities to fund projects that meet their connectivity needs and we are committed to connecting every rural, remote and Indigenous community in B.C. by 2027,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This project is another step toward meeting that commitment and meeting Action 4.36 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan to ensure that every First Nations community in B.C. has access to high-speed internet services.”
Access to high-speed internet will give people the opportunity to further access government programs and supports, training and business opportunities and to participate more fully in the digital economy.
“Being close to connected communities is not the same as having the option to be connected to reliable high-speed internet in your home,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “This project is going to fill important connectivity gaps in the region, and I am looking forward to more people having access to connectivity and all the services, opportunities and comforts that come with it.”
The Province has invested as much as $2.9 million through the Connecting British Columbia funding program, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust. Telus Communications Inc. also invested $1.3 million to build new fibre-to-the-home infrastructure that provides access to gigabit-enabled high-speed internet, enabling broadband internet speeds surpassing 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads, and 10 Mbps for uploads. Construction is set to begin in early spring and is expected to be complete in August 2023.
“Telus is committed to ensuring everyone can thrive in our digital world, no matter where they live,” said Shazia Zeb Sobani, vice-president of Customer Network Implementation at Telus. “We are proud to work alongside Indigenous governments and the Government of British Columbia to connect an additional 624 households and businesses on eight Indigenous lands to our Pure Fibre network. This is part of our ongoing commitment to enable rural and Indigenous communities with the speeds and coverage they need to connect to the people and information that matter the most, operate businesses locally and compete globally, and access online services, like health care and education, from the comfort of home. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Indigenous governments on what is important to them in 2023 and beyond.”
Collette Sunday, band administrator, Upper Nicola Band, said: “Upper Nicola Band appreciates the opportunity to have Telus PureFibre in our community. That will allow for our members to have high-quality access to the World Wide Web for their personal needs, as well this will assist us to have quality service for our community centre that we are currently planning. Finally, the Telus Pure Fibre will service economic development projects that are currently under development in our community.”
In March 2022, the Province announced an agreement with the federal government to provide as much as $830 million to expand high-speed internet services to connect all remaining rural and First Nations households in the province.
“Our community is among the Indigenous communities across Canada that are disproportionately affected by the lack of high-speed internet access,” said Chief Lara Mussell Savage, Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation. “This issue became more prevalent during the pandemic with the required at-home learning or remote working conditions faced by students or employees, and with a shift to e-health services. We at Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation are very pleased to be working together with Telus to support community values of self-determination through reliable connectivity via Telus Pure Fibre. This investment will provide our community with a better ability to access and support community priorities such as health, education, and employment programs and services.”
The plan to connect every household in B.C. to high-speed internet services by 2027 will level the playing field for British Columbians and ensure every community has better access to jobs, education, training and health care.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
Northern Development Initiative Trust:
StrongerBC: BC's Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.ca/plan
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan: