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High-speed internet coming to 6 Indigenous communities including one near Chilliwack

It’s part of pledge by province to connect every household in B.C. to high-speed internet by 2027
High-speed connectivity coming to more Indigenous communities including Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation’s Skwah 4 and Skwali 3. (City of Chilliwack webmap)

High-speed internet is coming to more than 500 Indigenous households including some near Chilliwack as part of the provincial ‘Connecting British Columbia’ program.

The “fibre-to-home” infrastructure will deliver gigabit-enabled high-speed internet to households in Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation’s Skwah 4 and Skwali 3; Cook’s Ferry Indian Band’s Entlqwekkinh19 and Kloklowuck 7; Squamish Nation’s Cheakamus 11; and Upper Nicola Band’s Nicola Lake 1.

B.C. government officials signed an agreement with the federal government last March to provide up to $830 million to expand high-speed services to all remaining rural and First Nations households not yet connected.

Sqwá chief Lara Mussell Savage says her community is among those “disproportionately affected” by the lack of high-speed access.

“This issue became more prevalent during the pandemic with at-home learning or remote working conditions faced by students or employees, and with a shift to e-health services,” Mussell Savage said.

“We at Sqwá are very pleased to be working together with Telus to support community values of self-determination.”

The infrastructure will allow them to hook those who’ve been underserved.

“This investment will provide our community with a better ability to access and support community priorities such as health, education, and employment programs and services,” the Sqwa chief added.

How fast is a gigabit in terms of the gigabit-enabled internet they’re promising?

It’s a billion gigabytes, apparently.

Fibre-to-home literally means access in the home, with infrastructure built to measure.

“Being close to connected communities is not the same as having the option to be connected to reliable high-speed internet in your home,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “This project is going to fill important connectivity gaps in the region, and I am looking forward to more people having access to connectivity and all the services, opportunities and comforts that come with it.”

The province has invested $2.9 million in Connecting British Columbia, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust. Telus Communications Inc. spent $1.3 million to build new fibre-to-the-home infrastructure that provides access to gigabit-enabled high-speed internet, enabling broadband internet speeds surpassing 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads, and 10 Mbps for uploads.

The plan to connect every household in B.C. to high-speed internet services by 2027 will level the playing field for for everyone in the province.

Access means being able participate more fully in the digital economy.

Collette Sunday, band administrator of the Upper Nicola Band, said: “Upper Nicola Band appreciates the opportunity. That will allow for our members to have high-quality access for their personal needs, as well this will assist us to have quality service for our community centre that we are planning. Finally, the Telus Pure Fibre will service economic development projects that are currently under development in our community.”

RELATED: 200 more rural communities get high-speed internet

RELATED: Response to Ryder Lake’s connectivity complaints

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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