KO SMART Stories

Submit your KO SMART Story today! If you have a story about how using the on-line services provided by the KO SMART First Nations, please share it with us. You can e-mail your story to: Florence Woolner at fwoolner@nwconx.net


I use K-Net for getting my email. I've had a K-Net email address since 2001. I also have a homepage at K-Net which my son, Cal, set up for me. I don't have a lot of extra time to spend updating my homepage as some people. I'm also learning about the different programs as I go.

I really like my home page as it keeps my daughter, Kanina, who lives in Toronto, and my son, Jesse, who lives in Kamloops, informed of our family activities, via the photos I post on my homepage. I like to take photos!

Kanina also has a K-Net homepage, where she posts her photos. I like seeing what she is up to. At various times, Jesse also sends us some photos of his college activities. This Christmas past, Jesse inherited a digital camera and we recently received some excellent photos of his outdoor activities.

Cal, who lives here in Sioux, also has a homepage. I feel a connectedness with my family through this modern use of technology. I like to think I've come a long way using this technology, because just about 10 years ago, I wouldn't even go near the Internet and the World Wide Web.

The only other comment I have is all the 'spam' I'm getting. And it seems that these 'worms' are sending out stuff under my name, which I'm not too crazy about.

Carol Terry


I have so many friends that are scattered all over Canada and posting my homepage was the best thing ever because it helped my friends get a hold of me. We share our experiences and help each other along the way.... For instance, one of the ladies asked about teenage parenting and I helped her out somewhat on what I knew from what I went through with my rebellious son. So K-Net is a big thing for our First Nation!

Alice Linklater


I used to always come to K-Net to look at the homepages. I used to wish for one of my own. I used to think how creative I could make my homepage. If I had one homepage I would get a lot of visitors, I thought. I was always daydreaming about getting my own, but I just didn't know how to get one. I was 99% I'm getting a homepage of my own but I was always thinking about that 1% of not getting one. 99% is almost 100%. I always heard around me. I'll just keep dreaming of how I'll make my homepage when I get a homepage.

It was awhile since I thought of getting a homepage. I was now sure I wasn't going to get a homepage… One day that all changed. My sister had got me an e-mail and homepage on K-Net. I was glad I had a great sister that loves me. It was my very first homepage. I put my favorite graphics on it. It was
how I said it would be. Even now my number of visitors is still going up. Now I come to K-Net to check my homepage, check my e-mail and still come to look at homepages. From K-Net I meet my friends from another far community and stay in touch with them. I'm glad I got a homepage on K-Net.

Daylan Chookomolin


I have been going to high school in my community. I have been in the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS) program for 2 years now. KiHS is a great program that enables me to earn high school credits while I stay home with my friends and family.

I have met the KiHS Staff and some of the teachers on-line. I have gotten all my computer skills there and I’m learning more things about the Internet, high school work and computers. K-Net has helped me learn more high school work. I believe it’s starting to be easy now. All communities are connected to the Internet by satellite dish. We also can communicate together easier and faster with other communities and other places around the world.

I have written this poetry on paper. So, I decided to type this in my computer at the high school where I go to right now.

Just have to use your mind to write something special. Ex: Stories, poetry and etc.

Who I am?

I am just a girl with good experiences and good personality...
I am just a 16 year-old girl that is good at playing hockey...
I am just a girl that is nice to other people...
I am just a girl that respects other people in my community...
I am just a girl that has nothing to do with other people’s life...I am
just a girl that has my own style...
I am just a girl with good grades and good intelligence...
I am just a girl that plays guitar in my spare time...
I am just a girl that takes photos of anything...
I am just a girl that writes poetry and stories...
I am just a girl that stays out of trouble with the law...
I am just a girl dreaming to be a Police Officer...
I am just a girl that likes to be a Night Crow...
I am just a girl that listens to music every day of my life...
I am just a girl that sings when playing guitar...
I am just a girl with a lot of dreams to wish for...
I am just a girl with good hair-styles...
I am just a girl that knows how to fix anything...
I am just a girl that is a big fan of Montreal Canadiens...
I am just a girl that likes to send emails to my friends & family...
I am just a girl that likes to be called "tomboy"...
I am just a girl that doesn’t like to be called names...
I am just a girl that is a playah...
I am just a girl that no gangsta no-more...
I am just a girl that has no problems with other people...
I am just a girl with nothing to do with anything....

Who I am?

Martha Quedent


K-Net has brought the world to my desk!

I began using the K-Net site over 2 years ago and I love it! I use it to send and receive email. In fact, I quit using Hotmail and Yahoo to do this! K-Net has provided a much safer way to connect with others on-line.

I have also been able to meet family members that I did not even know that I was related to on the chat line that K-Net has to offer. It's great to talk with other First Nation people in other communities. Another great place to go on K-Net is the "Talking Circle." This is a place for people to express their ideas on politics, native issues or other thoughts. Writers and readers can offer their own opinions or suggestions as they see fit within the boundaries of courtesy and respect. K-Net has bridged the distance of small and sometimes forgotten communities to the rest of world through modern technology!

Fay Zoccole


Since I started working with K-Net in 1995, it has changed quite a bit, and I mean quite a bit. It has been amazing to see the changes, and see how K-Net looks now. It never used to have graphics,
but now we can use digital cameras, and we have K-Net homepages for users on K-Net, who have a K-Net email address.

I have enjoyed seeing the changes, through the past few years.

In the future, I would like to see that we have taught our First Nation friends and others about what being careful about opening emails that have a virus... and just to be more cautious, as to what they open, if a file is attached. We need to make them all aware of what can happen.

Other than that, to this day, I enjoy being part of this technology, which I was never really excited about, like Brian Beaton, that first day... Many thanks to Brian, for the knowledge he has.

Darlene Rae


I’m from Sandy Lake First Nation...Oji-Cree Native.

K-Net.ca has helped me with family. As my shouts go along, people have emailed me and contacted me. Long lost family as well. I’m originally from Mishkeegogamang First Nation and my family over there have been visiting my personal web page.

Thanks to Kuh-ke-nah I found ma fans! Kitchi Migwetch!

Lance Bottle


I have been teaching in Cat Lake for 4 years now. For 3 of those years, I have been fortunate to work for Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS). KiHS is a great program that enables students to earn high school credits while remaining in their community.

The students I have met and worked with in Cat Lake have not only gained high school credits but they have also increased their computer skills. All their skills will be valuable for them and their community in the future. Not only
have the students been taught, but they have also taught me a great deal about
their lives.

K-Net has helped us a great deal in enabling our communities to be connected by the web. We can communicate easier and faster with other communities and other places around the world. Communication brings us together and makes us stronger.

Even with all these advances, we still need to remember the past. The words, stories, and traditions of Elders need to be preserved and K-Net provides the technology to do that. I would like to see a place where we can view the stories and listen to words of Elders. K-Net provides us some examples in the "Language" and "Arts and Crafts" sections but maybe we need more of that in order to keep a record of traditional knowledge.

Jeremy Snihur


I worked for Keewaytookinak Okimankanak High School, it really opened my eyes for the upgraded technology we have today as a group of people. The workshops that are held in Balmertown are really exciting and it helps show you all kinds of methods of receiving and delivering certain kinds of mail, and the fancy things you can do with your Inbox. All but not least, the homepages are amazing. Keep up the good work guys 'n' gals...

Liz Bunting


I had worked on Manitoulin Island some years back, so the idea of going to Poplar Hill, an isolated First Nation community in north-western Ontario, did not strike me as entirely novel. After all, the First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island were also Ojibwa and, though I had to take a plane to get to Poplar Hill, it wasn’t as if I was leaving my home province of Ontario. These simple facts consoled me as I
boarded the large Airbus plane at the Toronto airport to honour the teaching contract I had signed with Keewaytinook Internet High School, commonly known as KiHS (www.kihs.K-Net.ca). Three hours later, as I ran my hand across the riveted wing of the red-striped 12-seater that waited on a small corner of the Winnipeg airport runway, I knew things would be very different. "Here we go," I said to myself as I ducked my head to enter the Pilatus PC-12 that would take me to the staff orientation meeting in Red Lake, a small mining town of about 5,000 people.

A high school, with half a dozen classrooms, that is stretched across part of a roadless region in northern Ontario almost 1,000 kilometres long. The very idea of it seemed to question my basic understanding of the word "school." It was only at the orientation meeting that I really understood the concept. Each teacher would be matched with a community where they would run the local grade 9 classroom that was connected to the Internet via a local satellite.

Unlike the fused structure of elementary school, where one teacher is responsible for all the subjects in one particular grade, the high school system is based on a certain degree of specialization, where each teacher focuses on one subject or course. Despite obvious physical limitations, this distinction is not lost in the KiHS program.

Each teacher is responsible for teaching their respective course online and marking all assignments, which are electronically submitted by their students. Teachers are also responsible for "guiding" their local students through the online courses (taught by other teachers) by answering questions, elaborating on certain concepts, conducting class experiments, taking attendance, arranging parent-teacher meetings, and other such teaching duties that are part of every regular classroom. Aside from a few other adaptations, such as a virtual staff room and the odd telephone conference call with the principal, vice principal and guidance councillor in Red Lake, each classroom operated much like that of any other school.

The time that I spent teaching in Poplar Hill and Fort Severn First Nations and my ongoing experience with other K-Net funded projects have given me a new appreciation for the Internet and the diversity of the First Nation communities who utilize it. High speed Internet is allowing people in First Nation communities to share their successes and address common struggles in new and innovative ways. With the emergence of collective online programs in education, health and other social services and the onslaught of personal and community-based Internet sites, it is becoming increasingly difficult to refer to fly-in First Nation communities as "isolated" places. A few years ago, Mathew Coon Come, then head of the Assembly of First Nations, said, "We missed the Industrial Revolution. We will not miss the Information Technology Revolution." It only takes a short visit to the K-Net website (www.K-Net.ca) to see just how true this statement really is.

Fernando Oliveira


The only experiences I had with K-net is I found out I have family & friends in communities I didn't know existed or forgot about, and to keep in touch with everyone.

K-Net services have helped in ways to communicate with people I rarely talk to in person. K-Net has come a long way to service the North. K-Net deserves to be applauded for all the things they have done to improve better communication.

Jessie Brown


K-Net to me is a place where I can meet people from everywhere up in Northern Ontario online, people I’ve never met in my life and probably never will meet in person – but online is close enough. But things get out of hand sometimes because the person I’m chatting with might be having a bad day. I can tell sometimes by how they write and the way they place their letters on each sentence. So I do have fun sometimes, but sometimes a bad time. But I know everybody on K-Net is their own person and have their own opinion.

I like using K-Net because it provides a homepage service where I can express my feelings to everyone that comes into my homepage. Maybe they can learn from it too. I hope you continue to provide a better and faster service to give to the people who make it all happen and make K-Net a better place to be. I know I'll continue using this service. Thanks, K-Net.

But anyways, K-Net is the best way to know people and I hope it stays for many more years to come.

Gerald Slipperjack


Well my experiences are about my homepage. I never knew how much people could look at one homepage every single day for I don't know how long.

Well in fact I myself have a homepage really okay for someone who doesn't know very much about computers.

Ruth Winter


Hello there! I really enjoy K-Net. It helps me to browse for information about the First Nations communities, and of course happenings in each reserve. But there are those times that K-Net needs to be updated, like for example the Band Council, or any other thing....but anyways let me know where to post my information....i got at least three or four pages of information about K-Net....but most of the time, i would love to write and read at the same time....but the problem I have is that to edit my writing....chow....let me know where to post my information...or maybe i could email you the info....chow!!!

Barry Roundhead


Boo Shoo

I'm writing to you to tell how much experience I had in Kejick Bay with K-Net. It was a very educational experience with K-Net. I learned how to take off the virus with a student who has been there ever since she finished grade 8. Bobb Dyer was our teacher for grade 8 science for K-Net. But it wasn't my first choice where I wanted to go to high school it was my second choice where I wanted go. My first choice was Queen Elizabeth District High School because what I wanted is to know how to do some research in the library, meet lots of new friends, and I wanted to be smart in advanced courses. So far I'm doing all this in these courses.


Ronald Quoquat


I was the first female Chief in Fort Severn and I along with the other Keewaytinook Okimakanak Chiefs lobbied in 1997 for the Telemedicine project to come to Fort Severn. It has been good to connect with families that live far away and to send messages to them, too, especially to write to the high school kids that are in town or cities. I was hoping when I signed the agreement for these programs that they would turn out well and so far it has been very excellent!!! I can write to my friends all over the place. This is one of the good things that I did for my community.

Maria Thomas



Life and Times with K-Net


Long long ago, - almost ten years, to be exact, in an area of northwestern Ontario "out there" beyond the traffic lights and neon signs, - small pockets of Aboriginal people dotted the landscape living in relative isolation, connected with the outside world not by roads but through extensive expensiveplane rides.

Oh yes, they had information from the outside world. There was snail mail, and telephones in most (but not all) communities, and the fax business was booming. Satellite dishes beamed mainstream news, views and untruths twenty-four hours a day, and fortunately, Wawatay Native Communications Society counteracted the trend, and kept the vibrant Aboriginal culture from totally disappearing. But mainly those avenues of communication sort of Did It To us. The North absorbed, and reflected, and by the time we found an avenue to respond, - life had moved on

Communities continued to govern themselves in relative isolation. Libraries were not to be found, making research non-existent. Knowledge of other communities, other First Nations across the country continued to be limited to occasional highlights and horror stories. Teenagers continued to leave home for school in droves, and dribble back home labeled as failures. Hospital patients spent three days of their lives for a 10 minute specialist doctor’s appointment in a foreign city. Community leaders left in droves for brief meetings with government officials, eating up dollars outside the community in order to gain the basics for within.


And then K-Net came along, and life in the north will never be the same again.

K-Net, the communications network that is as entrenched as Carnation Milk.

K-Net which advocates for the little places around the world and works to ensure access of communication technology to the rural areas of Canada and world countries;

K-Net, the foundation of Keewaytinook Internet High School, enabling teenagers to remain at home for high school instead of hitting the big city at the age of 14;

K-Net enabling ground breaking telemedicine that allows patients to remain in their community for follow-up medical specialist appointments;

K-Net where a First Nation can showcase its community, preserve the pictures and activities of the past, and visualize its future. Just take a look at www.sandylake.firstnation.ca;

K-Net which initiates videoconference visits with dialysis patients in the city, and their families in the north;

K-Net which showcases business opportunities for entrepreneurs with clientele around the world;

K-Net which enables program developers, consultants and experts from any location to contribute skills and experiences, and enhance improvements for the north;

K-Net staff who share their expertise and skills most freely, knowing that sharing is a traditional value that keeps the north strong;

K-Net which awards T-Shirts for simply telling the truth.

Meegwetch, Keewaytinook Okimakanak, for having the vision and the foresight to embrace new technology, and to share it with the rest of us so that we too can be a cutting- edge part of twenty-first century Canada.

Margaret Fiddler


My first time hearing about K-Net was back in 1996, at the time it was a Bulletin Board System (BBS). I was a Co-operative Education Student at the time, and I took my placement with Brian Beaton over at Keewaytinook Okimaknak. Those were the wonder years, learning about computers, internet, and K-Net.

There are two things I remember clearly while I was there. I used to do this weekly "Mindtrap" question, this question was posted in a conference made for Mind Trap. At the end of the week, the person who got the question right would get a free deck of cards with K-Net’s logo on it (where are those cards ?). Even classrooms used to try to answer those questions and I would mail out the cards along with other prizes to the winners.

The other thing I used to do was be Santa Claus. It was fun receiving letters from children in the North. I had fun writing back to them. Anyway, that is my little story about K-Net and its earlier years.

Warren Meekis


Each month the K-Net statistics blow my mind. I mean, over 20 million hits at Myknet.org in one month! I wonder if the K-Net office realized 10 years ago that this website could generate over a million hits on their server each day coming from 28 tiny and remote communities. I wonder if Margaret, Brian, Jesse, Dan, Adi, John and the rest of the K-Nerds realized 10 years ago just what an impact K-Net would have on the north. Myknet.org has grown into a sort of meeting place...somewhere we can freely express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings...about ourselves, each other, our homes, and our friends. We can share pictures around the world and say hi to our loved ones back home. We can share with everyone just how much it hurts to lose a loved one, or like the original most popular K-Net homepage, we can share just how plain crazy and fun we are.

I grew up with K-Net. I remember when K-Net was just an idea and I feel fortunate now being witness to the endless hours members of my own family invested in and believed in to help get K-Net on its feet. It took some genius brains to get K-Net going and it takes every single individual in the many remote communities signing on to Knet.ca to make it what it is now. With every hit at Myknet.org, with every student registering with KiHS, with every artist posting their creations. I remember opening my first K-Net email account. The original version seems so ancient now, with the black screen and yellow courier font! This was definitely the start of a new era for northern Ontario. I have been lucky enough to be a part of the K-Net family since the beginning and even luckier to witness just what a great endeavour K-Net has grown into.

Willow Fiddler


Twice I have had the opportunity to be involved in new technology development in the north. The first time, in 1979 with Anik satellite trials in the Arctic, I was among the first television production trainers for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. Twenty two years later, I was there for the launch of the Keewatinook Internet High School as the grade-nine teacher in Poplar Hill First Nation. Both met stated needs of communities, in purpose and process.

It can be argued that the impact of aboriginal media is one of the most profound and positive influences of modern technology in the north. The philosophy of aboriginal broadcasting was quite simple, to enable people to participate in the production of their programming so that they could maintain and strengthen their languages and culture. And one thing is for sure, NAN’s leadership picked up a lot of skills at the CBC and Wawatay.

It was effective and relevant for maybe five years, in the two channel (CBC and TVO) universe of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation; following in a tradition of community and regional CBC and Wawatay radio. Today, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network carries regional programming from Wawatay and dozens of producers across North America. Unfortunately today’s youth are more likely to be watching Much Music or WWF than "catch" a regional program in their first language. It was great consolation, when I returned to the community two decades later, that community radio was still the only signal in town and continued to give people a voice that was heard.

The Internet, just barely "out of the box" is just as likely to transform the north as the phone and broadcasting. And just like those media, it is impossible at the start to say exactly what the benefits are going to be.

Will it foster inter-community communication or more assimilation with the south? Will it develop skills and weaken aboriginal languages? Are people happier, more empowered or frustrated with even greater knowledge of the things they cannot have (or buy)?

These are the concerns northerners had about the impact of television and still have about all weather roads. While the Web may seem more like television with all the Web page content, it is obvious that the web is primarily a personal communication tool, more like the phone than anything else. What is most popular and useful right now is the personal e-mail and chat rooms. People are communicating much more and meeting new people for every type of social interaction. It’s happening very quickly in the south and we don’t know much about it down here. It’s happening just as fast in the K-Net north.

When I taught KiHS students in five different locations, through the Web I wrote and distributed lessons and watched to my amazement how students managed to complete their assignments as independent learners. I was very skeptical of this format because I had just finished my graduate thesis on apprenticeship and believed in the social learning pedagogy of language acquisition, which argues that the social setting and interaction is not just an important factor, but is at the heart of an apprenticeship, where we form our identities as carpenters, doctors or learners. Looking at the KiHS classroom from this perspective, we created a very unusual social environment, where it’s not at all obvious who are "experts" and who are the ones to be mentored. Students come into a formal computer setting, work pretty much independently, get one-on-one with the local mentor-facilitator, and occasionally, help from one another.

This was not like any classroom where students worked in pairs of groups, where they modeled the cognitive style of their teacher. Instead, it was largely a print-based experience, at best, an electronic workbook with links to the Web - a format that worked for years in correspondence course learning for people with high levels of motivation and literacy. It seemed like a difficult medium for students with weak literacy skills and little support from parents. Amazingly, students gained the learning skills for this kind of classroom, and courses were passed. And the bonus was that my students could handle all this technology, manipulating photographs, digital images, preparing slides shows and Web pages. They had in the course of one year become as computer savvy as any kid in the South. It’s not for every kid in the north but those that can do it, like the broadcasters before them, are going to make a big difference in their communities.

The social context that I felt was so important to learning did in fact exist. It was student and content-centered, and the mentoring and the social learning that takes place in this computer-mediated environment, was mostly through instructions and personal feedback to students, with just a little "forum" discussion between students. Those of us that have found high-tech jobs understand that this computer-mediated social setting can be quite complex and enriched. So while students are managing to complete courses, they are gaining some of the most prized skills in modern society, the ability to work on the Web, in other words Web apprentices.

A more tangible example of change comes from my opening the classroom to students at night for Internet access. The rules were simple: "No porn, don’t give out your phone numbers or real name in a chat, and I could look over your shoulder anytime." All 14 computers were in heavy use to download and burn CDs, play in Yahoo and K-Net chat rooms, make a personal web page and use e-mail, just as the kids in advantaged households in the south were able to do in their own home. Most of the kids that came to the school at night were in grades 7-8. Besides picking up networking basics, kids wrote for a purpose. I heard many exchanges on how to spell words, or communicate like "Here look, what does this mean?" The effort for me seemed to pay off well: the kids and I developed technical skills, the project represented good PR for the school, and it kept kids off the street – the location became much like a drop in centre.

This year I am working with Wawatay to digitize newspapers from thirty years of publishing. One story from each year will be linked to the KiHS and Ontario curricula. You’ll be able to read the stories or listen to them narrated by a broadcaster. Many will have Oji-Cree equivalents so that they can be read in either language while listening in Oji-Cree. We are probably assembling the largest collection of northern stories and voices on the Web, and it’s anybody’s guess who will be our largest audience.

Tom Axtell