SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - April 30, 2010)
Rob Clarke, Member of Parliament for Desenthé-Missinippi-Churchill River, on behalf of Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, was pleased to announce today that 26 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan will be receiving access to high-speed internet and cellular telephone service over the next three years – thanks to a combined investment of more than $16.8 million by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and SaskTel.
"By investing in telecommunications infrastructure, we are empowering each community to become more efficient, sustainable and competitive from both an educational and business perspective," said MP Clarke. "In addition, this type of service enhances and opens up educational opportunities for First Nation youth who are enrolled in schools within these communities."
"A major objective of SaskTel is to provide all residents of Saskatchewan with technologically advanced communications services," said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Telecommunications. "The funding from INAC will allow SaskTel to provide these 26 First Nation communities with access to one of the best communications networks in the world." This announcement is a result of partnership agreements between INAC, the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) and SaskTel. "Obtaining access to these types of services places us on a level playing field with other communities and larger urban centres," said STC Tribal Chief Felix Thomas.
"This project will go a long way to ensuring that our businesses remain competitive, our members have better access to health and government services, and our youth don't have to leave home to take advantage of educational and training opportunities not accessible through our current infrastructure." This project represents a major improvement for each of the 26 communities. Until now, internet access has been available via low-speed dial-up modems. Through this upgrade, residents will have enhanced access to health and emergency services, educational and business opportunities, and overall entertainment benefits enjoyed by others throughout the province.
INAC is contributing over $8.4 million to STC through the First Nations Infrastructure Fund. SaskTel is investing an equal amount as part of the Saskatchewan Infrastructure Improvement Program, with the STC assuming an administrative role. This project is part of a larger SaskTel connectivity initiative which began in 2009. The anticipated completion date is December 31, 2012.
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