Beaton, Burnard, Linden, & O’Donnell (2016). Keewaytinook Mobile: An Indigenous Community-Owned Mobile Phone Service in Northern Canada.

Beaton, B., Burnard, T., Linden, A., & O’Donnell, S. (2016). Keewaytinook Mobile: An Indigenous Community-Owned Mobile Phone Service in Northern Canada. In L. E. Dyson, S. Grant, & M. Hendriks (Eds.), Indigenous People and Mobile Technologies (pp. 109–125). New York: Routledge.

[“Introduction” (p 109) …]

“The KMobile idea began when the leadership of one of the Indigenous communities asked the tribal council Keewaytinook Okimakanak to include mobile services in their network plans. Keewaytinook Okimakanak knew it would be a significant challenge but believed they had the capacity to do it; their telecommunications division KO-KNET had already built and was operating the largest Indigenous-owned telecommunications service in the world.” (p 109)

[“Settler Colonialism in Canada and OCAP as an ICT Response” (p 110) …]

“… analysis of ‘settler colonialism’ is helping Indigenous academics and their non-Indigenous allies explain how it is possible that many Indigenous communities in Canada are experiencing such appalling levels of poverty and underdevelopment. … OCAP — Ownership, Control, Access and Possession …” (p 110)

“… OCAP is an Indigenous response to the role of knowledge production in challenging colonial relations. … First, Indigenous communities must retain access and possession of the capacity and resources to effectively manage the content, traffic and services on their local network. Second, Indigenous communities have a right to own and control the local broadband network in their communities in order to support the flow of information and services (Kakekaspan et al. 2014).” (p 111)

“The problem with giving public infrastructure funds directly to corporations instead of local communities to manage can be illustrated by one recent example. … one of many examples of the colonial and capitalist approaches to regional telecom development that enrich corporations and miss an opportunity to build capacity in local communities.” (p 112)

[“Local Ownership of Telecommunications in the Remote Keewaytinook Okimakanak Communities” (p 112) …]

“Five of these remote Indigenous communities with year-round residents — Fort Severn First Nation, Keewaywin First Nation, North Spirit Lake First Nation, Poplar Hill First Nation and Deer Lake First Nation — are members of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak tribal council. Keewaytinook Okimakanak (‘Northern Chiefs’ in the Oji-Cree language) is governed by the chiefs of its member communities. Deer Lake with 1,000 residents is the largest, and the others have resident populations between 400 and 500. Keewaytinook Okimakanak is an intermediary organization; among its functions is to support infrastructure development in its member communities (McMahon et al. 2014). It provides second-level support services, including KO Health, KO Education and notably a series of technology-supported services: the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS) (Potter 2010; Walmark 2010), KO Telemedicine (KOTM) (Williams 2010) and the flagship Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET), the most extensive Indigenous-owned telecommunications service in the world (Carpenter 2010).” (p 113)

“Since its birth in 1994 as a bulletin board service (BBS) to connect students in six remote Indigenous communities with each other, KO-KNET has leveraged strategic funding and partners to create a vast telecommunications network and digital services organization now serving more than 80 Indigenous communities across Ontario. Based in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, KO-KNET services include Internet connectivity, a managed videoconferencing network, the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN), supporting KiHS (Internet high school) and KOTM (telehealth) and a range of other broadband-enabled services, training and related activities.” (p 113)

[“The Development of KMobile as an Indigenous Community-Owned Service” (p 114) …]

“KMobile successfully obtained the 850mhz wireless spectrum from the national provider that had been given this space by the federal government but had no plans to use it in this region because the Indigenous communities did not meet their population requirements.” (p 116)

“Two authors of this chapter, staff members of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, developed the new billing software required to support the KMobile users to use the service both while on the network and roaming on other mobile networks. This software development has saved KMobile hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding the need to purchase and manage an existing billing software system.” (p 118)

[“Indigenous Community Member use and Experiences of KMobile” (p 118) …]

“The most common reason for using a mobile phone in Fort Severn was safety and security when out on the land … Reasons given for not wanting a mobile phone were the cost (it was not a priority), not wanting to be easily contacted or not seeing the need for it; for example, one comment was: ‘For a community like Fort Severn, if I want to talk to someone, I just go over to their house. It’s just a small community’ (O’Donnell et al. 2011, 670).” (p 119)

[“Conclusion” (p 121) …]

“Our conversations and interviews with community members are often interrupted by messages and postings arriving on smartphones.” (p 121)

“Community residents with smartphones are using them to access the Internet via the many WiFi networks throughout the communities. Facebook is a primary means of communication. Each community has a Facebook page closed to community members and a few outside friends …” (p 121)

“KMobile is a successful example of public funding flowing directly to an Indigenous organization and Indigenous communities to build and operate telecommunications infrastructure. However, much remains to change government policies created by urban-based bureaucrats to recognize the essential aspect of mobile services in these remote communities and to support community-owned solutions rather than funding solutions from urban-based corporations.” (p 122)

“These strategic investments in mobile technology are making it possible for everyone to choose where they want to live and raise their families.” (p 122)

“However, in the long history of Indigenous presence in this region, settler colonialism is a recent phenomenon.” (p 123)

Selected References

  • Carpenter, Penny. “The Kuhkenah Network (K-Net).” In Aboriginal Policy Research VI: Learning, Technology and Traditions, edited by J. P. White, J. Peters, D. Beavon and P. Dinsdale, 119–27. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2010.
  • Kakekaspan, Matthew, Susan O’Donnell, Brian Beaton, Brian Walmark and Kerri Gibson. “The First Mile Approach to Community Services in Fort Severn First Nation.” Journal of Community Informatics 10, no. 2 (2014.). Accessed March 18, 2015.
  • McMahon, Rob, Michael Gurstein, Brian Beaton, Susan O’Donnell and Tim Whiteduck. “Making Information Technologies Work at the End of the Road.” Journal of Information Policy 4 (2014). Accessed March 18, 2015. http://jip.
  • O’Donnell, Susan, George Kakekaspan, Brian Beaton, Brian Walmark, Raymond Mason and Michael Mak. “A New Remote Community-Owned Wireless Communication Service: Fort Severn First Nation Builds Their Local Cellular System with Keewaytinook Mobile.” Canadian Journal of Communication 36, no. 4 (2011): 663–73.
  • Potter, Darrin. “Keewaytinook Internet High School Review (2003–2008).” In Aboriginal Policy Research VI: Learning, Technology and Traditions, edited by J. P. White, J. Peters, D. Beavon, and P. Dinsdale, 148–57. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2010.
  • Walmark, Brian. “Digital Education in Remote Aboriginal Communities.” In Aboriginal Policy Research VI: Learning, Technology and Traditions, edited by J. P. White, J. Peters, D. Beavon and P. Dinsdale, 141–47 Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2010.
  • Williams, Donna. “Telehealth/Telemedicine Services in Remote First Nations in Northern Ontario.” In Aboriginal Policy Research VI: Learning, Technology and Traditions, edited by J. P. White, J. Peters, D. Beavon and P. Dinsdale, 159–68. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 2010.
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