Community Engagement


Describe your experience in engaging the community in initiatives of similar size, scope and nature.

KNET is a horizontally integrated clearinghouse for addressing Indigenous telecommunications issues, infrastructures and applications in the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation - an overview of community projects is available at: As the telecom arm of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, KNET assumes a leadership position facilitating technology projects, distributing electronic services, and developing new media content.

The KNET Services team has coordinated broadly-based projects aimed at improving the quality and level of telecommunications services available in First Nations - see 3.4 ORGANIZATION. KNET has been instrumental in demonstrating the practical value of communications applications in First Nations. KNET's success is based on its proximity to emerging community needs, its commitment to pragmatic system-based solutions, and by its capacity to support early adopters in their use of new technologies and applications. KNET provides HelpDesk Services to 60 First Nations SchoolNet sites, manages annual Science and Technology Camps for Aboriginal youth, and hosts computer-mediated conferences with groups such as the Ontario First Nation Principals. In addition, KNET has developed on-line learner resources such as the DirecPC Manual and the Webpage Development Guide.

In 1994, KNET introduced a text-based BBS service and provided intensive training for its community members. The service grew from a gated training application in to a regional messaging system. The BBS forums are still an active and accessible resource. In 1996, KNET launched a web-based e-mail service to animate adoption of improved internet access. The KNET mail server hosts 3,328 clients in remote communities - clients include adults and children, administrators, leaders, teachers and health professionals.

In 1998, KNET responded to First Nations interest in telehealth by brokering a partnership among the Communications Research Centre, Health Canada, the Ottawa Heart Institute, Computing Devices Canada, and the Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital in Red Lake. The application was positively evaluated and is now part of the hospital's cardiological protocol.

This summer KNET initiated a telepsychiatry pilot partnership with Health Canada, Nodin Counselling, the London Psychiatric Hospital and Virtual Professionals Incorporated (VPI). Counsellors, health professionals, and clients in Sioux Lookout and Red Lake are now using the VPI interface for therapeutic and professional development purposes. Both projects are demonstrating how Canadian information technologies and applications can effectively deliver knowledge-intensive expertise in remote First Nations settings.


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