One of the more significant challenges with all northern communities was a lack of ready access to information and the challenges to communicate between remote communities without all season roads or telephone – cell or land line. As a result, Oji-Cree and Cree peoples in the North have always been innovative communicators. The Woodlands School lead by Norval Morrisseau, Carl Rae and Goyce Kakegamic has its roots in Deer Lake and Red Lake in the 1960s. In the 1970s, First Nations communities pioneered community radio and newspapers such as Wawatay News. With the first BBS Bulletin Board to provide on-line support for teachers and students living in the North, KO took the first steps towards building the largest First Nations broadband network in Canada that supports IP video, telephony, digital education, IP-based tele-medicine and cellular. The adoption and adaptation of the new information technologies by First Nations community members were felt almost immediately as community members now had ready access to their neighbors in the North, across Canada and around the world through the Kuhkenah Network. The largest First Nations owned broadband. KO is currently expanding into cellular services in remote First Nations using this network.
About Keewaytinook Okimakanak Community Initiatives
The Chiefs established Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) to create opportunity and build the capacity needed for First Nations people who choose to live, work and raise their families in the North. From its humble beginnings twenty years ago KO established a network of resources devoted to supporting healthy and sustainable community development. Community members manage and operate highly technological programs such as KO Tele-Medicine, which links physicians and other health care professionals in the South with patients in the far north through state-of-the-art tele-medicine i-docs operated by Community Telehealth Coordinators (CTCs); KiHS, the first Ministry of Education approved digital school in Ontario where hundreds of youths are pursuing high school diplomas without the need to leave their homes and families, and K-Net Services, Canada’s First Nations leader in telecommunications, connectivity and the development of broadband applications