Governments of Canada and Northwest Territories invest to bring high-speed Internet to 152 homes in the North Slave region

By griffith - April 16, 2021

Residents of the Northwest Territories to benefit from increased connectivity

OTTAWA, ON, April 15, 2021 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities lack access to high-speed Internet. Through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed Internet they need.

Today, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and Member of Parliament for Saint-Boniface–Saint-Vital, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, along with Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories; the Honourable Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance and Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment for the Northwest Territories; as well as Chief Alfonz Nitsiza, Chief of Whatì from the Tłı̨chǫ Government, announced almost $11 million in combined funding with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to bring high-speed Internet to rural residents of Whatì in the North Slave region. This project will connect 152 underserved households to high-speed Internet in the Northwest Territories. Funding is being provided as follows:

  • $5 million from the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund
  • $3 million from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • $1.5 million from the Tłı̨chǫ Government
  • $1.4 million from the Government of the Northwest Territories

The $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund was launched on November 9, 2020. The project being announced today was approved within six months of the formal launch of the program. Projects funded under the UBF, as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) supports the territories through its suite of economic development programming and makes foundational investments in economic infrastructure, such as broadband, that help position Northerners and Indigenous peoples across the territories to move toward self-reliance. CanNor is supporting this Tłı̨chǫ Government project by helping to fund costs for the engineering, construction and commissioning of the fibre optic cable that will connect the residents of Whatì. Fast and reliable Internet is essential for the full participation of Northerners and Indigenous peoples in all aspects of Canadian society.

Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve critical infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. Since 2015, the federal government has approved over 185 infrastructure projects, totaling over $634 million in federal investments, in communities within the Northwest Territories. These investments mean 61 km of new or upgraded roads are now making our communities safer and more than 13 projects are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water.


“Access to fast and reliable Internet connections is essential for everyone living and working in the Northwest Territories, including in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. This investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 152 households in the North Slave region, helping to create jobs, enhance the delivery of vital services such as health care and online learning services, and keep families connected. Our government will continue to make critical infrastructure investments like these to improve the quality of life and create greater economic opportunities for Arctic and northern residents and all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

“Accessible and reliable connectivity creates new possibilities for Whatì, and other communities in the Northwest Territories. Our government is proud to invest in high-speed Internet projects in the NWT that bridge the digital divide, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor

“For those of us living in smaller northern communities, we know first hand the struggle too many Canadians face when it comes to accessing reliable Internet service. With today’s investment, the Government of Canada is helping the community of Whatì bridge the digital divide and enabling its residents to more fully participate in everything the Internet has to offer. My congratulations to the Tłı̨chǫ Government on its successful application, and I look forward to seeing Whatì connected both by all-season road and by fibre in the near future.”
Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced something we already knew—that universal access to reliable high-speed Internet is critical to the well-being of our communities. While our government is committed to increasing broadband accessibility and speed in the territory by advocating for and supporting large-scale infrastructure investments, we cannot achieve this without strong partnerships. The Whatì Fibre Project is an excellent example of what can be achieved with three governments working together to address the needs of our residents.”
– The Honourable Caroline Wawzonek, Minister of Finance and Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment for the Northwest Territories

“This project is a great example of the very positive things that can happen when the Tłı̨chǫ Government works closely with our partners in the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, Northwestel and our own Tłı̨chǫ Business Arm to make projects like this Whatì Fibre Optic Project a reality for the Tłı̨chǫ People.”
– Chief Alfonz Nitsiza

Quick facts

  • Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.
  • The Universal Broadband Fund is a $1.75-billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed Internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021, and are now being evaluated.
  • The UBF is part of a suite of federal investments to improve high-speed Internet. The suite includes the Connect to Innovate program, which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023, and the recently announced $2-billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

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