All-Indigenous consortium plans to buy Northwestel

By Kierstin Williams, Nunatsiaq News - June 17, 2024


An Indigenous-led consortium plans to buy Northwestel, a subsidiary of Bell Canada, the largest telecommunications provider in the North, Bell Canada announced Tuesday (File photo)

Billion-dollar sale will make Northwestel largest telecommunications company with full Indigenous ownership, new owner says

A consortium of Indigenous organizations plans to buy Northwestel, the largest telecommunications provider in the North, in a deal worth up to $1 billion, the company’s owner Bell Canada announced Tuesday.

Sixty North Unity, a consortium of Indigenous partners, will make Northwestel the largest telecommunications company worldwide with full Indigenous ownership, according to a news release issued by Bell Canada.

Sixty North Unity is led by David Omilgoitok from Nunavut, Darrell Beaulieu from the Northwest Territories and Tiffany Eckert-Maret from Yukon.

The new ownership group said communities and businesses across the North will benefit from better connectivity because it plans to make significant capital investments to double internet speeds for fibre customers and offer Low Earth orbit satellite technology to deliver 50/10 Mbps speeds to 25 satellite-served communities in Nunavut.

Northwestel president Curtis Shaw called the deal a monumental step toward economic reconciliation.

“I can’t wait to see what advancements this new partnership will bring to northern Canadians,” Shaw said in Tuesday’s announcement

“We’re grateful for the leadership and support we’ve received from Bell Canada over the past 36 years and can’t wait to embark on this new chapter with Sixty North Unity.”

Bell Canada said the company plans to use proceeds from the sale to pay down debt. The cash deal will be subject to adjustments and certain closing conditions, the company’s news release said.

Sixty North Unity intends to maintain the existing Northwestel team, including current president Shaw, and work toward an increase in Indigenous representation in the workforce in part through expanded training and mentorship.

“This acquisition allows us to take the lead in continuing to address the critical gap in telecommunications services in our northern communities,” Omilgoitok said.

“Expanded investments in fibre and Low Earth orbit infrastructure have the ability to transform the North and put us on equal footing with the rest of Canada.”

Located in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, Nunatsiaq News is dedicated to covering affairs in Nunavut and the Nunavik territory of Quebec since 1973. It has been a partner to ArcticToday and its predecessors since 2016.