February 10, 2012
The Government of Canada is partnering with SaskTel and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) to enhance Internet services in 68 communities. The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Member of Parliament for Blackstrap, made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, along with the Honourable Ken Cheveldayoff, the Saskatchewan Minister of First Nations and Métis Relations, and FSIN Vice-Chief, Morley Watson, today at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
The primary beneficiaries of this initiative are the over 15,000 students in 89 on-reserve schools. In addition, these First Nations will also be better placed to bridge the digital divide and to access e-services in key areas such as healthcare, learning, business development and banking.
“Innovation in schools, including reliable access to the Internet, is an important tool to help First Nation students reach their full academic potential and acquire the knowledge and skills required to compete in today’s labour market,” said Minister Yelich.
The project is part of SaskTel’s larger $300 million initiative to enhance their suite of services to rural customers throughout the province. AANDC will invest $11.6 million over five years, with SaskTel contributing technical, planning and in-kind services. SaskTel anticipates construction to be completed in 2014.
“SaskTel has focused on ensuring that First Nations in Saskatchewan have access to the best telecommunications infrastructure in Canada,” said Ken Cheveldayoff, Minister responsible for First Nations and Métis Relations on behalf of Bill Boyd, Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Telecommunications. “Upon completion of this project, telecommunications connectivity available to First Nations across Saskatchewan will be more comprehensive than anywhere else in Canada and First Nations communities will have the broadband access necessary to fully participate in the social, educational and economic benefits of Canada’s digital economy.”
“This partnership will provide an equal opportunity to our First Nation schools to excel in academic success,” said Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Vice-Chief Morley Watson. “The project will provide the technology required for First Nation students to be prepared when they further their education and develop the skills needed to launch a career."
The announcement aligns with recommendations from the 2011 Senate report on First Nation education to increase connectivity in First Nation schools. It also addresses similar comments raised during the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education’s engagement sessions.
The Government of Canada is committed to working with First Nations communities and is pleased to partner with SaskTel and the FSIN on this project.
This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca.
Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation (SaskTel) is the leading full service communications provider in Saskatchewan, with $1.1 billion in annual revenue and over 1.4 million customer connections including over 568,000 wireless accesses, 528,000 wireline network accesses, 230,000 internet accesses and 85,000 Max™ (TV) subscribers. SaskTel offers a wide range of communications products and services including competitive voice, data, internet, entertainment, national security, messaging, cellular, wireless data and directory services. In addition, SaskTel International offers software solutions and project consulting in countries around the world. SaskTel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries have a workforce of approximately 4,100 employees.
For media inquiries only, please contact:
Office of the Honourable John Duncan
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Michelle Englot, SaskTel Director of External Communications