Upwards of 2,200 First Nations people in the Cariboo Chilcotin will be connected to high-speed fibre optic internet over the next 22 months.
Pathways to Technology will be delivering the project to 13 communities within the nations of Esdilagh (Alexandria), Xat’sull (Soda Creek), Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek), Esketemc (Alkali Lake), Ulkatcho, Tsideldel (Alexis Creek), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Yunesit’in (Stone), and Tl’esqox (Toosey).
“It’s pretty exciting that we’re able to impact and make high-speed internet available to those communities,” said project manager, Ruth Williams Lake.
“Interior Health has come abroad to assist as well and contribute to this project because they’re going to benefit and their communities are going to benefit as well. The First Nations Health Authority is also assisting with telehealth.”
The project is also expected to improve access to education, economic development opportunities, and emergency response services.
“The aspiration of the project is to create stronger relationships through improved access to internal and external communication in the community through fibre (broadband) to each of the residences, governance buildings, and businesses,” said Xat’sull First Nation Acting Chief, Sheri Sellars.
“This will open the lines of communication to the community in the comfort of their own homes, the ability to manage our own communication data in the administration offices and the ability move away from the costly communication processes in place to date.”
A portion of the $40.8 million dollars through unconditional grants from the B.C and Canadian governments will be applied to the project.
The PureFibre network will be built by Telus with construction anticipated to start in the second quarter of 2019 and project completion by December 2020.
“Reliable and affordable high-speed internet service is essential for helping B.C.’s rural and Indigenous communities grow and thrive,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services, Jinny Sims.
“Connectivity diversifies local resource-based economies, preserves language and culture, keeps more young people close to home, and enables better access to government services. Broadband services are particularly important for self-determination, allowing communities to decide how to best leverage technology to improve people’s quality of life.”