Announcing a Saskatchewan First Nation Infrastructure Fund Investment
April 30, 2010
Check against delivery
I'm pleased to be here this afternoon, on behalf of the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. And I'm honoured to be joined by Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas, and Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Telecommunications Don Morgan.
It's my privilege to be here for this exciting announcement. I think we can all remember some moment when the internet opened the door to a new opportunity.
Maybe it was seeing a job posting that fit our skills, or connecting trends, or going live with a website for a small business.
Today most Canadians rely so much on the internet that they can hardly imagine a time when they didn't have it.
If you live in an urban centre, Internet access is fast and efficient. That's not the case for many Aboriginal people living in rural and remote communities. Yet the ability to be connected efficiently in First Nations communities is important because high-speed, broadband internet connections can bring services and opportunities within closer reach.
That's why our government included connectivity as one of the priorities for investment in the First Nations Infrastructure Fund.
I am pleased to be here today with the Saskatchewan Tribal Council and SaskTel to announce a successful partnership that has been made possible through this fund.
Our government has contributed $8.4 million through the First Nations Infrastructure Fund, so that 26 more First Nation communities in Saskatchewan will soon have access to high-speed internet and cell-phone service.
This means better access to information, stronger emergency services and a link to new opportunities that exist outside the community.
For example, the internet can be a classroom where students - both young and adult learners - can access educational opportunities.
The internet can be a source for health information and a provider of telemedicine services.
The internet is also a marketplace where Aboriginal businesses can connect with a much larger customer base.
And let's not forget that the internet can be fun, too. It's a source of entertainment and social connections for children and families after a day of school and work.
Across Canada, we've already seen how First Nations have used broadband connections to improve services at home … attract tourists from afar … and promote cultural industries to a global market.
Even though we consider connectivity to be an infrastructure investment, in many ways this is about investing in people. That's because faster access to the internet can unleash tremendous human potential and creativity.
Saskatchewan First Nations have been working hard to improve the quality of life in their communities. They are eager to participate in the strong economic growth that is occurring in the province. And broadband internet access is another important step in creating prosperity for Aboriginal people, for Saskatchewan, and for all Canadians.