SaskTel brings fibre optic internet service to the Whitecap Dakota First
Whitecap Dakota First Nation, located 26 kilometres south of Saskatoon, recently became the first Indigenous community in Saskatchewan to be fully connected by fibre optic broadband infrastructure
(Photo courtesy of Whitecap Dakota First Nation.)
An internet connection has become essential to the fabric of our digital world and modern economy. Its importance is far reaching and allows for the overall success of Saskatchewan residents, communities, and the province as a whole.
This is especially true for Indigenous communities where residents may be more reliant on an internet connection to access critical resources, including economic opportunities, education, and social supports—just to name a few.
Thanks to funding from both the Provincial and Federal Governments along with a partnership with SaskTel, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation (WDFN) recently became the first Indigenous community in Saskatchewan to be fully connected by fibre optic broadband infrastructure. Under the Investing In Canada Infrastructure Program, the Government of Canada contributed $1,136,250 and the Government of Saskatchewan contributed $378,750 toward this more than $1.5 million Whitecap Dakota First Nation Residential and Commercial Internet Services Improvement Project.
“The digital divide within the Indigenous communities is very real, and from a holistic perspective, broadband and technology have little value in a community unless they benefit everyone,” said Kevin Harris, SaskTel Indigenous Business Development Account Executive. “SaskTel was pleased to provide Project Management resources to bring fibre to the homes, as well as home installs when customers signed up for service.”
Located 26 kilometres south of Saskatoon, the WDFN is a modern and progressive nation with a proud culture and a strong sense of community. WDFN has approximately 600 members – many which live within the community – and have mandated leadership to implement a nation-building vision focused on building opportunity and strengthening community.
“Broadband connections are vital to providing access to educational opportunities, medical and mental health appointments, online banking, and everyday transactions that improve quality of life for all residents” – Colleen Cameron, SaskTel Indigenous Business Development Account Executive
“I am thankful to both the federal and provincial governments for their contributions to this significant investment into our community,” said Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to navigate through a number of challenges in how we provide services to our members. It has been a pleasure working with SaskTel to implement the solutions that would work best for our community.”
With a long history of establishing partnerships, WDFN continues to work with its neighbours and governments in support of its nation-building agenda.
CEO and President of SaskTel Doug Burnett (left), Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear (centre), and Minister Responsible for SaskTel Hon. Don Morgan (right) are pictured following the announcement in WDFN on Dec. 3, 2021.
“As we continue to act on the community’s vision, we use accountable leadership and transparent governance practices to attract external investment. To date, Whitecap has been successful in attracting over $160 million in capital investment in economic development and tourism,” said Chief Bear.
As a result of this collaborative investment the local primary health centre, band office, business park, public works, as well as over 160 households in the community can receive internet speeds significantly faster than what was previously available.
As part of this project, the SaskTel Indigenous Business Development team also incorporated its Connected Community Program to further advance First Nations digital transformation. This strategy works to create internet access in community buildings and provide vital communication tools to community members.
“Broadband connections are vital to providing access to educational opportunities, medical and mental health appointments, online banking, and everyday transactions that improve quality of life for all residents,” said Colleen Cameron, SaskTel Indigenous Business Development Account Executive. “The Connected Community is an integral part of the community wellness function, and SaskTel Indigenous Business Development continues to bring connectivity and access to our First Nations in Saskatchewan.”
SaskTel’s commitment to expanding advanced broadband connectivity to underserved areas of the province also includes initiatives like the Rural Broadband Partnership Program. Through this initiative SaskTel partners with internet providers to bring advanced broadband connectivity to underserved farms, acreages, Indigenous communities and other hard to serve rural areas in Saskatchewan. Recently, the program successfully brought broadband service to Muscowpetung First Nation.
“As we continue to work with other Indigenous communities across the province, the successes from past projects will help us to use the best methods possible when improving broadband services in other Indigenous Saskatchewan communities into the future,” Kevin said.
If your Saskatchewan Indigenous community is interested in participating in SaskTel’s Connected Community Program, please contact Colleen Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kevin Harris at email@example.com.
To learn more about SaskTel’s Indigenous Engagement visit https://www.sasktel.com/about-us/Community/Indigenous+Engagement.