Nekaneet First Nation the first Indigenous community in Sask. to provide telecommunication services

A southwest First Nation in Saskatchewan will become the first Indigenous community to provide telecommunication services in the province.

The Nekaneet First Nation leadership announced an initiative partnered with Batchewana First Nation to provide high speed internet, telephone and TV services to Nekaneet First Nation and the southwest region of Saskatchewan area including Maple Creek.

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“It’s very important because not too long down the road in our history here, they used to say occupy the field and be part of the economy,” said Nekaneet Chief Alvin Francis. “This is really just part of it – providing these services of internet, landlines and cable to our First Nations.

Francis said the telephone and internet service is weak in his community. Establishing this initiative will help his band members stay connected by providing an essential service.

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“I am talking to many other First Nations who are interested in this product,” Francis said. “It’s always the dollar value of any product that’s going to make people come.”

Although Nekaneet First Nation will be the first Indigenous community to launch such an initiative in Saskatchewan, they follow in the footsteps of an Ontario First Nation who spearheaded the idea to provide telecommunication services to Indigenous communities.

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The Batchewana First Nation, located near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., founded the initiative within the last six months.

“The small communities have really poor access to this really essential service,” said Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers. “So, we believe everybody deserves access to this essential service at the same quality across our lands.”

Working with Nekaneet First Nation, the Batchewana nation hopes to eventually expand its ventures with others across Canada.

“This is the first Indigenous-led telecommunications initiative that has the ability to reach a national audience coast to coast to coast,” said Sayers. “It’s nice to be on the cutting edge in this particular instance.”

Construction of the towers will begin in the next couple of weeks and Francis is hoping that within six to eight weeks they will have all 14 to 16 towers up in the southwest part.

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Nekaneet First Nation, located near Maple Creek, has an on-reserve population of 260 people.

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New Indigenous-owned internet service provider

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