First Nation e-Centres
deliver essential community services
in the Feb 7, 2002 Wawatay
By : Keewaytinook Okimakanak Staff Contribution
Since the beginning
of last summer, E-Centres have been sprouting up across the
Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) First Nations. People increasingly
overhear others say "I'll see you at the E-Centre"
or "We can do that at the E-Centre".
As Darlene Rae,
North Spirit Lake's E-Centre Manager, tells it, "We have
five computers for community / public access. Right now, people
are mainly using the internet for things that they need to
do - personal interest."
E-Centre has been open to the public since the fall, and is
located in the old Health Canada overnight cabin, sharing
one-half of the building with the Keewaytinook Internet High
School. Rae says, "We need more space already. People
keep stopping me to ask when the Centre is open (off hours).
We open in the evenings as we can - when we have volunteers
to be in charge."
E-Centre boasts the community access site, a video-conferencing
suite, a staff office and a fledgling library begun with book
donations from the school. Working with Rae are Charlisa Fiddler
(Computer Technician), Arnold Thompson (Multi-Media Producer)
and Dale Jack (ICT Support). As a team all four staff work
with the community to help people make use of the available
technologies and also work to keep the entire network running
throughout the community and in the different buildings.
As in the other
four KO Smart communities, the E-Centre is the community data
network hub providing direct access services to all the services
available on the Kuh-ke-nah high speed data network (K-Net).
All communities (with the exception of Poplar Hill) have renovated
existing building space for use as the local E-Centre. Poplar
Hill included their E-Centre in their new Business Centre
facility (which also has a four-room hotel, the local post
office and the new Northern Store). Fort Severn's e-Centre
is located in the renovated radio station but public access
sites (each space specializing in certain applications and
serving different groups) are located in several buildings,
including their new Youth Centre.
Rae reports that,
"all homes and community buildings in North Spirit were
connected to high speed data service by the new cable system
during November. There is more interest now in the cable modems
and getting on-line." Four homes have already purchased
their cable modems, and more will be installed as people acquire
A full range of
network and support services are being supported from these
centres. Individuals, organizations, local committees, and
businesses are invited to participate in technology application
sessions to learn how these new communication tools work.
E-Centres are the
distribution point for network access in each Smart First
Nation from where the local organizations, programs and the
homes receive their connection to the high speed data network.
Local network technicians maintain the network hardware, provide
technical training, assist local clients with computer needs,
office LANS, and help local consumers and organizations install
cable modems and network cards in their computers.
Managers are organizing
training (introductory, multi-media, technical) and deliver
hands-on introductory sessions from the Centres. Introductory
workshops focus on use of internet technologies - basic applications
like e-mail - and computer applications. Public sessions will
be augmented by focussed technology transfer workshops with
community partners - teachers, health professionals, police,
and Band employees.
staff are now able to support the development of local business
and employment opportunities, provide training and together
with our community members, elders and leaders help to determine
how these communication technologies will be used in North
Spirit," concluded Darlene Rae.
for this story are:
The public access
room at the North Spirit Lake e-Centre is a busy place
Poplar Hill's New
Business Centre opened in October 2001
Hosting a community
planning meeting in the Poplar Hill e-Centre