Imagine needing to drive an hour from your home to download files. Or having to spend thousands of dollars to travel to visit a doctor. Not too long ago, this was the experience of residents of Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, also known as Grassy Narrows. The small community in Northern Ontario has struggled with unreliable Internet for years. If weather conditions were bad, community members could expect to lose Internet for up to a week at a time.
Connecting Grassy Narrows through the Universal Broadband Fund
The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) undertakes projects in underserved rural areas across Canada, including in Indigenous communities. In June 2021, the Government of Canada announced a UBF project that would connect the residents of Grassy Narrows to high-speed Internet, with the help of IT company FSET Inc., through SpaceX Starlink technology.
“I love my home, but there is more to Earth than the land we live on—there is the world around it.”
The life-changing benefits of high-speed Internet were felt almost instantly in the community as the first satellite dishes were mounted. One resident reported that their Internet speeds jumped from a sluggish, inconsistent 5 Mbps to a steady, fast 280 Mbps. Prior to gaining access to high-speed Internet, this same resident had to drive about an hour to Kenora if he wanted to download important files.
Residents with young children in Grassy Narrows saw a noticeable difference after they were connected. Darryl Forbister, a resident, told FSET,
“I love my home, but there is more to Earth than the land we live on—there is the world around it. Having high-speed Internet allows our kids to open their eyes and broaden their horizons. They are being introduced to the rest of the world, not just the confines of the First Nation itself.”
The Kitapinoonjiiminaanik Family Services Centre was acutely aware of how expensive unreliable Internet was for the Grassy Narrows community. In several cases, virtual service delivery was not an option, so community members had to travel in person to either Thunder Bay or Winnipeg to see a doctor or mental health professional. These trips would often cost the community more than $3,500 per person. Now, residents are able to access essential services virtually, saving thousands of dollars that can be invested in the community.
High-speed Internet for all Canadians
It’s easy to take high-speed Internet, and all the opportunities it brings, for granted. But for too many Canadians, high-speed Internet is still out of reach. Check out the High-speed Internet for all Canadians web page to learn about the Government of Canada’s plan to connect all Canadians by 2030.