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THUNDER BAY, ON: Matawa First Nations today welcomed provincial investments for the Rapid Lynx broadband project as announced by Premier Doug Ford, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. The investment of $30 million is provided through the Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.

The investment fulfills the last needed funding to bring state of the art next-generation high-speed broadband to internet dead spots in 5 fly-in/remote First Nations in the Matawa region. In October 2017, the federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (through the Connect to Innovate initiative) invested $37.1 million and, the federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs invested $2.14 million towards the project. In November 2018, the RL broadband project joined the First Mile Connectivity Consortium which is a collective of First Nations across Canada undergoing similar fibre-to-the-home projects.

Advanced fibre-optic cable and optical electronics will be deployed for the Rapid Lynx network. No other network technology available today, whether satellite, fixed wireless or mobile wireless, approaches the speed, capacity, reliability, security and long operating life of fibre-optic cable. Rapid Lynx fibre-optic cable is made of hair-thin strands of glass bundled together, shielded and wrapped, then armored with steel rods to protect it from damage. Optical electronics will generate laser beams that travel across the strands of glass, carrying digital data, audio, images, video and computing applications to and from the communities and the global internet at close to the speed of light. Fibre-optic cable is a highly scalable “next generation” technology with the longest functional life of any other network technology, allowing Rapid Lynx to serve generations of First Nations community members for decades to come.

With today’s announcement—the project will begin immediately. It will include the construction of the network, including fibre-optic community networks, facilities and equipment in the 5 fly-in/remote communities, and a fibre-optic longhaul network connecting the communities together and to the global internet over an existing network running from Aroland First Nation to Thunder Bay. The engineering design has been completed, and a long-haul network construction contract has been awarded.

In addition, fibre-optic cable materials will be ordered for delivery as soon as the winter road is available. Tree clearing and brush removal along the winter road will take place as soon as Ontario environmental permitting has been completed in 2019. Construction of the long-haul network will begin along the all-access road from Aroland First Nation to Marten Falls First Nation proceeding along the winter road to the remote First Nations communities from east to west terminating at Nibinamik First Nation.

Site planning, specification and procurement of prefabricated community facilities will ensure that deliveries to the remote communities can begin as soon as the winter road is available. Shipments of optical electronics to “light” the community networks will be timed for arrival as the local community facilities and distribution networks are deployed and connected to the long-haul network.

In addition to meeting a basic human right for members of the 5 fly-in/remote First Nations—the project will have a number of benefits. Some of which include:

  • Will increase prosperity, security and quality of life in the Matawa First Nations
  • Will transform economic development and job creation in the Matawa First Nations by substituting speed of connectivity for physical proximity to metropolitan area trading centers
  • Will create a digital highway open year-round and connected in real time to over 4 billion people online, or over half the world’s population, to market their goods and services and share the natural beauty of the area and their culture, stories and art to attract visitors
  • Will enable the Matawa First Nations to participate in and create value from provincial economic development strategies within the region including the proposed mining development in the area known as the Ring of Fire
  • Will combine affordable and reliable access to the Rapid Lynx network with targeted training for First Nations members to accelerate job growth and create opportunities for online businesses
  • Will provide First Nations youth with access to the Rapid Lynx network and to educational programs to prepare them for jobs in the network technology and software application development industries so that they can perform high-paying jobs remotely from their own community or form their own businesses to create online applications and services for Internet-based consumers worldwide
  • Will attract a higher share of venture capital in software development and online businesses
  • Will transform education in the Matawa First Nations, utilizing high capacity transmission of audio, video, data and computing applications to provide for online distance learning programs from early childhood through elementary school, high school and college from within their own communities
  • Will allow for online distance learning degree programs from community colleges and universities from around the world, including online workforce training and certification programs
  • Will transform healthcare in the Matawa First Nations by connecting nursing stations to medical specialists and intensivists located at remote hospitals to access life-giving emergency diagnostic and treatments for community members in real time
  • Will allow access to wellness programs and services for management of chronic conditions from remote medical professionals for members of the Matawa First Nations from within their own homes
  • Will transform police, public safety and security services by allowing personnel to obtain and provide real time information about emergency and security situations by video, audio, images and data and to monitor public areas fibre to the wireless



“Aroland First Nation is pleased to be part of the start of the Rapid Lynx broadband network as part of its backbone construction. Although funding conditions have prevented us from accessing the high-speed internet while the line is being put in place—we look forward to future opportunities to access this infrastructure that will be put in place in our community. In the meantime, we are proud to stand with our Matawa communities to help them build this broadband line.”
– Chief Dorothy Towedo, Aroland First Nation

“The fibre-optic project to the Matawa remote communities will enable vast improvements to education, health, and economy for our members. Marten Falls appreciates the new infrastructure project as an example of progressive partnerships between First Nations, Ontario and Canada.
– Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, Marten Falls First Nation