Digital Divide in Canada

It’s hard to imagine how anyone in the 21st century that can operate without the internet. Especially in a developed country like Canada.

If you look back at the history of the internet, it started out in the 1990s by Tim Burners-Lee. It was as a neat idea, a cool innovation, and also the most convenient invention ever. Not long after, this quickly turned into a necessity, just like electricity and water. It’s more surprising for someone to not consider the internet as a utility.

But that doesn’t mean it’s accessible to everyone. For Canada, more often it’s the Aboriginals that go without it. It was reported in 2007 that only 17% of First Nation communities in Canada had access to a broadband service.

Why is this the case?

There’s has always been a lot of social and economic inequality for Indigenous people. Which lead to the lack of digital literacy for many Natives. Most are not equipped with the skills or capabilities to use the internet. Only 34% are confident in their computer skills. On top of that the pricing in these communities are unusually high. For example, NorthwestTel (which is owned by Bell) charges $180/month for 5Mbps download speed and 30GB of usage in Nunavut. While the same service is offered in Montreal for $30/month.

How can we be bridge the gap?

In all honestly, the government has been handling First Nations affairs poorly since history can remember. All the initiatives to improve the quality of life have been short-lived and underfunded. The Canadian government can look at Facebook for some ideas in broadband projects. They have started a project to bring internet access to developing countries. These communities need a long-term project in order to keep up with the changing digital environment. A good start is by creating an initiative that builds the infrastructure needed for high speed internet.

All in all, it’s going to take a long time before Indigenous people can finally catch up to the rest of Canada.

References
Gilfillan, Katie, Jordana Saab-Bault, Monica Trott, and Soon Min Kim. “Left out of the Conversation: The Digital Divide and #IdleNoMore.” The Prince Arthur Herald. The Prince Arthur Herald, 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.