In December of last year, KNET was featured in an article by the National Post highlighting the lack of adequate technology, faulty connections, and underfunded broadband projects in Indigenous and remote communities of Canada. Jesse Fiddler, K-Net director, was quoted, in the article, discussing the services KNET provides communities in Northwestern Ontario and some of the challenges.
In Ontario, Kuhkenah Network (K-Net), a First Nations-owned and operated information and communication technology service provider, based in Sioux Lookout, has been partnering with Indigenous communities to create unique community-owned networks for over 20 years.
The network was created and is owned by Keewaytinook Okimakanak, a First Nations Tribal Council in northern Ontario established by the leaderships of Deer Lake, Fort Severn, Keewaywin, McDowell Lake, North Spirit Lake, and Poplar Hill bands.
Jesse Fiddler, K-Net director, said before their service, some of the founding communities did not have basic telephone service, let alone the internet.
“Spirit Lake had one landline for the entire community, which was a payphone sitting on a remote building,” said Fiddler. “You had to sit outside in the cold just to call someone.”
With funding from the federal government, Fiddler said they were able to connect the six founding Indigenous communities to improved telephone service and set up internet connections. K-Net soon expanded its operations to surrounding communities as well as across the province.
“Our model is community-owned and community-based networks,” said Fiddler.
Currently, K-Net connects 100 Ontario First Nations over satellite, wireless, and fibre optic cables to their network. Of these communities, 26 have developed community ISPs.
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