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Community Networks 1 August 2022

Indigenous Connectivity Summit to Take Place this October—Transitioning to a New Home

By Natalie CampbellSenior Director, North American Government and Regulatory Affairs

The 2022 Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) marks a significant milestone this year. When it takes place this 24 to 28 October 2022, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it will become a true community-driven event—being led by the newly-formed Indigenous Connectivity Institute.

The ICS is an annual event that brings together Indigenous community members and leaders, network operators, researchers, and policymakers with a common goal: connecting Indigenous communities to fast, affordable, and sustainable Internet.

Five Years of Impact

Since the Internet Society held the inaugural event in 2017, the ICS has evolved into much more than an event. It has grown into a strong movement of advocates focused on finding, advocating, and building practical solutions to improve access in Indigenous communities across North America.

The event’s impact over the years has been huge. It has led to:

  • A strong network of Indigenous connectivity advocates and technical experts promoting access solutions across North America
  • New community networks deployments, like Pu’uhonua o Waimanalo in Hawaii
  • New community network training opportunities, such as the Tribal Broadband Bootcamp
  • Billions of dollars worth of new federal government broadband funding opportunities, in Canada and the United States
  • More communities using the U.S. Tribal Priority Window to get spectrum allocation for community-led access solutions
  • More inclusive federal and regulator funding guidelines for community network grant applicants in Canada and the United States

A Community-Led Event

This year, the movement will become even stronger as the 2022 Indigenous Connectivity Summit transitions to a new home, the Indigenous Connectivity Institute. This milestone represents a significant achievement for one of the Internet Society’s initial goals: to create a truly community-led event.

The Indigenous Connectivity Institute (ICI) was formed to scale the support, knowledge, and financial resources that Indigenous people need to build digital equity in their communities and on their terms. It is led by an advisory committee of Indigenous connectivity advocates across the United States and Canada and includes many past Indigenous Connectivity Summit participants.

The Internet Society will remain a co-organizer for the 2022 Indigenous Connectivity Summit along with Connect Humanity, the initiative that created the Indigenous Connectivity Institute. It will be the first in-person event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the ICI’s new role as event lead, the ICS community will be more powerful than ever to identify, promote, and build relevant solutions to improve access in Indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada. And the timing couldn’t be better.

A Unique Opportunity for Collaboration, Skills Development, and Policy Advocacy

The ICS community has contributed to significant achievements over the years, especially in light of the urgency to improve access during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is still much work to be done to achieve digital equity.

In Canada, only 31.3 percent of First Nations on-reserve households had access to the federal target of 50/10 Mbps Internet speeds or faster by 2018. The situation is even more challenging for people in northern parts of the country who face significant geographical barriers to access. For instance, in the Nunavut Territory, fewer than half of households had access at speeds of at least 5 Mbps.

The situation is similar in the U.S. Nearly one-third of American Indian and Alaska Native households lacked access to a computer with a broadband Internet subscription, according to a 2016 US Census American Community Survey.

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit offers a unique opportunity for participants to discuss challenges and develop practical community-led recommendations and solutions. In addition to a series of community-driven presentations and panels, participants lead a workshop to craft policy recommendations that guide advocacy efforts for the coming year.

Similar to past years, the ICS will also feature training opportunities in the lead up to the main event. These will include technical training on how to build and operate sustainable community networks and introductory sessions on broadband policy, advocacy, and funding opportunities.

Be the First to Register!

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit is open to anyone across North America who cares about finding community-led solutions to improving access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet connectivity in Indigenous communities. 

Don’t miss out! Sign up to get an email alert when registration for the event opens.

Image copyright: ©Angela Gzowski

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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