By Katie Jordan Senior Policy Advisor
Mark Buell Regional Vice President – North America
People around the world are relying on the Internet to keep them connected to everyday life, but Indigenous communities in North America are being left behind by companies and governments. Lack of connectivity means many are unable to access even basic information and healthcare. And while COVID-19 has hit Indigenous communities especially hard, lack of access means they can’t use services that connected populations consider critical, such as remote learning and teleworking.
We must address this critical gap.
For years, the Internet Society has worked with those very communities, along with network operators, technologists, civil society, academia, and policymakers – bringing them together to discuss what can be done collectively to narrow the digital divide. We do this through our Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) and the pre-Summit Trainings: Community Networks and Policy and Advocacy.
This year, though we can’t meet in person, we’ll hold a virtual event.
We’re excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2020 Indigenous Connectivity Summit.
The Summit will take place October 5-9, 2020, with training sessions beginning the first week of September. Those who register for the Summit before Friday, September 11th will receive a swag bag and materials for hands-on training prior to the Summit. (Training registration will be open until August 28th.)
The 2020 Indigenous Connectivity Summit
Though we won’t be able to gather together in Winnipeg, Canada, as we had hoped, we are looking forward to gathering virtually to continue these important conversations. The venue is a bit different than we anticipated, but many aspects of the 2020 ICS will be the same.
We’ll still talk about many of the pressing issues Indigenous communities in North America face as they work to access the Internet on their own terms:
- Sovereignty and creating a virtual nation
- Access to resources such as infrastructure, spectrum, and backhaul
- Capacity building
- The Tribal Priority Window for Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum and what 2.5GHz spectrum can be used for
We’re also working hard to include the features that make the ICS a must-attend event, including networking, team building, and unique experiences. The Indigenous Connectivity Summit has always been and will always be a place to foster human connections.
Following last year’s success, we are also offering two pre-Summit trainings: Policy and Advocacy and Community Networks. Participants of these trainings will hear from experts in the field about how to build, maintain, and operate community networks. They’ll also be equipped to fight for the policies that impact their community’s ability to deploy connectivity solutions on their own terms.
Each course will last six weeks, consisting of one hour-and-a-half long session per week. Sessions will begin the week of September 1, 2020 and run through the week of the Summit, culminating in a virtual hands-on training and the creation of this year’s policy recommendations, which will guide the community’s advocacy work for the next year.
We hope these courses and the Summit itself will equip participants with the skills and network they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities for connectivity as a result of COVID-19 – and to connect their communities on their own terms.
Please join us for this year’s Indigenous Connectivity Summit and Trainings – and share the word with your partners and community!
Image of a community networks training program participant in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories ©Angela Gzowski