National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Robert Ghiz – President & CEO

Each year, September 30th marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, when we honour the Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities, and the children who never returned home.

Recognition of this tragic and painful history and reflection on its lasting impacts are an important part of the reconciliation process. But the advancement of reconciliation requires much more than an annual day of observance. It requires on-going and sustained action.

In keeping with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, Canada’s telecommunications sector is engaged in relationship-building with Indigenous communities to support a range of initiatives. These include sustainable land and resource use, education funding, job creation, cultural awareness and community-led infrastructure projects.

We know that expanding and enhancing network coverage is key to the economic prosperity and social well-being of remote and Indigenous communities. That is why our members are working with Indigenous communities, together with different levels of government and Indigenous-led businesses, to build and improve telecommunications infrastructure.

While only a small sample, the following are examples of the type of projects and collaborations taking place across our country.

Through the industry-funded CRTC Broadband Fund, together with its own investments, Northwestel has embarked on a three-year plan to bring high-speed unlimited internet access to every community in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

As part of this project, Northwestel has partnered with thirteen Yukon First Nations development corporations to bring fibre-to-the-home service to eighteen Yukon communities. Under this model, the fibre assets that connect thousands of homes across the territory will be Indigenous-owned and will result in a guaranteed return on investment for Yukon First Nations over the next two decades.

In 2021, SaskTel launched its Rural Broadband Partnership Program, with the goal of partnering with smaller internet providers to bring advanced broadband connectivity to underserved areas of the province, including Indigenous communities.

Through this program, SaskTel has partnered with a new majority Indigenous-owned internet service provider, Beaver River Broadband, under which Beaver River Broadband will utilize portions of SaskTel’s network to deliver high quality internet service to underserved Indigenous and rural communities.

In British Columbia, Rogers is building new cell towers that will service the highway and communities along the route between Prince Rupert and Prince George, which has sadly become known as the Highway of Tears, and in doing so is fulfilling one of the recommendations of the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium report to enhance safety for Indigenous women and girls.

These are just a few examples of the numerous projects underway by Association members Bell, Rogers and Videotron, as well as smaller regional carriers, to improve connectivity in Indigenous and other communities across Canada, and in doing so delivering financial benefits, job creation and safer communities.

We know there is much more work to be done. And we all wish it could be done faster. But many underserved areas present the most challenging conditions for network building. It will require continued collaboration, commitment, and resourcefulness by service providers, governments, and local communities to connect all Indigenous communities. It will also require policies that foster ongoing investment in network building.

Ongoing collaboration will not only bring greater prosperity and quality of life to Indigenous communities, but also it will bring greater understanding of the history and perspectives of Indigenous people, build greater trust, and advance the process of reconciliation.

To learn more about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and how you can participate, visit National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Be Prepared: Important Steps You Can Take to Stay Connected During a Storm

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and snow and ice storms are becoming more commonplace, endangering Canadians, damaging property, and posing a risk to critical infrastructure, including telecommunications networks.

Telecom providers know that Canadians depend on them to stay connected, especially during an emergency. That is why they have made it a priority to strengthen their networks and make them more resilient in the face of extreme weather events and natural disasters.

But even with these preparations, extreme weather and other disasters can result in power outages, downed poles and cables, and other damage that can impact your use of internet and mobile phone services.

With Atlantic Canada preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Lee , now is a good time to review some important tips on preparing for potential power outages and other storm damage that can affect your use of telecommunications servicers.

The following tips and best practices can be found in the emergency preparedness document we released this spring, Preparing for Severe Weather Events & Other Emergencies, and are also available at

Before a storm:

  • Monitor the weather and be ready for emergency alerts.
  • Prepare for power outages by fully charging your devices.
  • Have backup power supply that can power essential communications equipment like your internet modem, Wi-Fi router, and cordless phone.
  • Determine if your phone or phone service rely on your home power supply and consider a backup power supply if they do.

During a storm and in the immediate aftermath:

  • Preserve device battery power, such as by reducing the screen brightness and turning off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and location-based services when you don’t need them.
  • Help reduce network congestion by using SMS/texting or email to connect with others and do not use your mobile phone to make phone calls unless it is an emergency.
  • If you must make a phone call, keep your conversation as short as possible, and if your call is not connected wait at least 10 seconds before redialing.
  • Do not use mobile wireless networks for data-intensive uses, like streaming video or non-emergency related internet use.

When calling 9-1-1:

  • If you have a working landline phone and a mobile phone, use the landline phone to help reduce traffic on mobile networks.
  • Mobile phone service is designed for 9-1-1 calls to default to whatever wireless network is available, so calling 9-1-1 on your mobile phone may still be possible even if your service provider does not have an operational cell tower nearby or your phone does not have a SIM card.
  • 9-1-1 calls may take longer to connect due to increased network congestion following an emergency. If your call is not immediately connected, wait a few seconds to allow your device to make a connection. If your call is not connected, hang up and wait 10 seconds before redialing. Do not immediately redial.
  • If you are still unable to successfully place a 9-1-1 call, try removing or turning off your device’s SIM card. In rare circumstances, the presence of the SIM card may prevent your device from connecting to an alternative service provider’s network.

You can also find more tips on how to prepare for emergencies at the Government of Canada’s website, and the websites of your provincial/territorial governments and local municipalities.