PRESS RELEASE - Sioux Lookout, Ontario. January 07, 2005

Indigenous Community Leaders from the North in Three Provinces to Attend Opening of Satellite Broadband Network in Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Indigenous community leaders from the remote north in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba will meet here on January 19, 2005, to launch a broadband network made possible through the harnessing of satellite technology. The leaders' communities spanning many thousands of miles from Quaqtag on the Hudson Straits in Nunavik, Quebec, to Barren Lands First Nation close to the border of Saskatchewan in Manitoba have been connected by the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network, (NICSN) the first inter-provincial community-owned and operated broadband satellite network in Canada. NICSN is jointly managed through an inter-provincial partnership involving Keewaytinook Okimakanak Council in Northern Ontario, Kativik Regional Government in Nunavik, Quebec, and Keewatin Tribal Council in Northern Manitoba.

Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) is hosting the opening ceremonies to be held at the NICSN earth station and network hub located on the north side of the town of 5000. KO working with its partners from Manitoba and Quebec and a number of public and private investors has spearheaded the five years of development that culminate in the network launch on January 19.

“We are grateful to have been able to work with so many people to make NICSN a reality,' said Geordi Kakepetum, Executive Director of KO. “We wanted communities other than our own to experience the benefits of full high-speed broadband services and now we can see the results of the partnerships that took place to make it happen.”

Representing the government of Canada at the celebrations on January 19 is the Minister of State for FedNor Joe Comuzzi whose department has invested more than $10 million in the Northern Ontario portion of the network infrastructure. The other key government of Canada investors in NICSN are Industry Canada's First Nations SchoolNet (FNS), Smart Communities (SC), Broadband for Rural and Northern Development (BRAND) and the National Satellite Initiative (NSI) who, with Telesat and the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund, have contributed $20 million in C Band satellite bandwidth which provides the space accommodation for the network. Bell Canada's investment in infrastructure upgrades to Sioux Lookout made it possible to located the hub here and closer to the where the services are being delivered.

Mr Kakepetum said he wants to use the opportunity provided by the network launch ceremonies to focus attention on the ways in which his and other remote northern communities are using this unique network to improve the lives of their citizens.  Guests at the opening will be invited to witness how this new technology brings world-class telehealth services to community users as well as other applications like an internet-based high school for grade 9 and 10 students throughout the north of Ontario. “Our Chiefs began to improve ICT's in our communities over ten years ago,” Mr Kakepetum said. We have been fortunate to receive the support of governments and industry to help us, and now we are glad to see that other Indigenous communities from Manitoba and Quebec will be developing these vital services.”

For further information about the NICSN launch on January 19, 2005, please contact:

Florence Woolner, Opening Co-Facilitator
807 7374418 – p
807 7377287 – f

For information about NICSN and K-Net please contact
Dan Pellerin, Network Manager, K-Net
Keewaytinook Okimakanak
807 7371135  #51258


Brian Beaton, General Manager, K-Net
Keewaytinook Okimakanak
807 7371135   #51251