Sixth Annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit to provide sustainable solutions to close the Indigenous connectivity gap in North America
With Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada without access to fast and affordable internet, a new Indigenous-led organization will lead the campaign for digital equity
WASHINGTON, October 24, 2022 /CNW/ — The Internet Society, in partnership with Connect Humanity, will co-host the sixth annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit, bringing together Indigenous community members and leaders, network operators, researchers and policymakers in a common goal: to connect Indigenous communities in United States and Canada to a fast, affordable and sustainable Internet.
Indigenous communities are among the most underserved in terms of internet access in North America. Less than a quarter indigenous communities in Canada have access to broadband speeds; in the USA 18% of tribal reservations don’t have access at all. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the canadian and WE federal governments have committed billions of dollars in funding to close the connectivity gap in these communities.
It is essential that indigenous peoples are involved at all stages – from development to implementation – of broadband projects that directly affect their communities. This is why this year’s summit marks an important milestone, as it evolves into a truly community-led event, under the umbrella of the new Indigenous Connectivity Institute.
Established by Connect Humanity, the Indigenous Connectivity Institute was formed to ensure Indigenous communities have the capacity, support, knowledge and financial resources to implement digital equity solutions in their respective communities. , on their own terms and under their own direction. It is led by an advisory committee of Indigenous connectivity advocates from across United States and Canadaincluding many former summit participants.
“The Internet Society has hosted the Indigenous Connectivity Summit since 2017, but our goal has always been to shift the leadership of the event to Indigenous communities themselves. The partnership with Connect Humanity and the Indigenous Connectivity Institute will help community building goal- led solutions that will bridge the digital divide for indigenous peoples through North America,” said Sharayah WaySenior Advisor, Community Connectivity at the Internet Society and member of the Advisory Board of the Indigenous Connectivity Institute.
The summit will be held in person, from October 24e through October 28ein Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and will include workshops, presentations, flash talks and panel discussions on a number of issues facing Indigenous communities as they strive to access the internet on their own terms. Topics include broadband mapping, spectrum sovereignty, building off-grid networks, and capacity building, among others. An important outcome of the summit will be a set of policy recommendations co-developed by participants that will guide advocacy efforts going forward. These recommendations will be released within weeks of the event and, if implemented, would help Indigenous communities pilot their own connectivity solutions under their own leadership.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the large number of underserved communities that cannot access or afford reliable broadband, prompting the government to act. In United Statesthe CARES Act 2020 Reserve $1 billion for the improvement of the broadband infrastructure on Indian Reservations; the US Bailout Act assigned $17 billion nationally for broadband improvements; and the Infrastructure Act 2022 directed $2 billion for a tribal fund for broadband connectivity.
Canada, however, lags behind. While the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Broadband Fund went to 750 million Canadian dollars over five years to let Canadians know is still not enough. The latest round of applications alone received nearly 600 submissions totaling more than $1.5 billion in funding applications.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. and Canadian governments, along with the philanthropic community, are finally beginning to invest in closing the connectivity gaps that disproportionately impact Indigenous communities,” said Marc Buell, Director of Indigenous Programs for Connect Humanity. “But to ensure that these funds are targeted to the communities that need them most, Indigenous peoples must be at the center of the development of policies, funding programs and infrastructure projects that affect their communities. The Indigenous Connectivity Institute builds knowledge, community and advocacy capacity so Indigenous peoples can build a digital future on their terms. And this year’s summit will shape policy that will help turn the tide after decades of underinvestment in Indigenous communities.
Driving change in North America
The Internet Society, a global nonprofit organization working to promote an open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet, established the Indigenous Connectivity Summit in 2017. Over the course of six In recent years, the summit has evolved beyond a gathering of stakeholders to become a community-led movement focused on researching, advocating and creating practical solutions to improve access in Indigenous communities through North America.
The summit has had a significant impact so far:
- He trained over 350 participants in the pre-summit community networking and policy advocacy trainings. The summit also introduced new networking opportunities, including the Tribal Broadband Bootcampwhich trained 100 indigenous leaders on building networks in their own communities.
- Since 2017, the summit has issued 90 policy recommendations, as well as inclusive federal and regulatory guidelines for candidates, which have been reflected in reports, policies and legislation such as the 2019 Arctic Council report. Improving connectivity in the Arctic, rural development strategies and funding criteria for government programs in Canada and United States.
- Eighteen Aboriginal community networks were supported in the two United States and Canadaincluding Pu’uhonua o Waimanalo in Hawaii, and ongoing projects in from Winnipeg North End and Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories.
- In 2020, the Internet Society helped tribes navigate the Tribal priority window (TPW), providing free advice and support to tribes, including webinars and application presentations. More than 400 tribes have applied for a license through the TPW, and from August 2021270 tribes received licenses.
- In 2019, the summit was recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives for “working to strengthen digital connections among Native American communities.”
The inscription at the top is open; it will be the first in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be streamed live online for those who cannot be there.
Learn more about the 2022 Indigenous Connectivity Summit here.
About the Institute of Indigenous Connectivity
The Indigenous Connectivity Institute is a community of leaders working to bridge the digital divide by sharing knowledge, shaping policy, and helping people learn the skills to build and manage their own Internet networks. Dedicated to solving the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities by Canada and United Statesthe Institute is the premier organization dedicated to digital equity among First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Americans Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
About the Internet Society
Founded in 1992 by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society is a global non-profit organization that works to keep the Internet a force for good for all. Through its community of members, special interest groups, and more than 120 chapters around the world, the organization defends and promotes Internet policies, standards, and protocols that keep the Internet open, globally connected, and secured. For more information, please visit: Internetsociety.org.
About Connect Humanity
Connect Humanity is a nonprofit fund that advances digital equity by investing in community connectivity providers. It helps underserved communities identify the right solutions to meet their connectivity needs and provides funding and technical assistance so they can build the internet infrastructure, tools and skills they need to fully participate in a digital society.
SOURCE THE INTERNET SOCIETY
For more information: Internet Society, Allesandra de Santillana, [email protected]; Connect Humanity, Calum Cameron, [email protected]+44 7450680400