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Beanfield Centre

RightsCon: Addressing the digital divide in Indigenous Communities in North America

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Published on May 17, 2018

While the digital divide is usually framed as an issue of the developing world, significant divides exist in countries with highly developed communications infrastructures. This is certainly the case of Indigenous Peoples in many "developed" countries. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 41% of Americans living on tribal lands lacked access to Internet speeds necessary to do things such as videoconference in 2016. Estimates in Canada show that approximately half of the northern population, regions of the country often predominantly Indigenous, lack the service that resembles the high speeds available to their southern counterparts.

Community networks offer a unique opportunity to overcome these challenges by offering a DIY option to connect. Local communities can join together to pay for the common infrastructure, which can change or grow over time with the community's needs.

This session will engage participants on how to operationalize a set of principles developed and endorsed by the delegates at the Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The roundtable will include presentations from and discussions with Indigenous community network operators, Indigenous leadership, as well as youth and Elders to discuss the ICS outputs through the lens of the importance of access for empowerment, promotion of culture, education and freedom of expression and access to information.

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