Rob McMahon

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Indigenous Connectivity Summit 2018: Training Day

True to its location in Festival City – also known as Edmonton, Alberta – the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit’s training day crackled with the energy of community networking advocates from around the world.

Held at the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta, the event began with a smudging ceremony led by Dr. Lana Whiskeyjack from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Lana spoke about the role of smudging to ground ourselves through ceremony. Herman Many Guns from Piikani First Nation then said a prayer and thanked our Treaty 6 hosts for allowing us to host the event on their territories.

Returning to the main venue, Jane Coffin from the Internet Society stressed that community networks are not “pirate” initiatives but rather efforts by communities to support community development through locally-owned and operated broadband. They aim at long-term sustainability and are driven by cooperation and innovation: “They inspire us to think differently and to solve problems together.” Jane also pointed to the barriers these initiatives face, including inappropriate licensing and permits, high taxes and fees on equipment, limited access to financing and funding, and restricted spectrum. Governments and regulatory agencies play an important part in addressing these issues.

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