CIRA’s Community Investment Program is helping Canadians build internet infrastructure, get online and learn new digital skills.
This year we are funding 21 projects spread out across Canada - including our first-ever projects in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and several more from Western Canada.
At CIRA, we have staff driven by purpose and with a lot of hometown pride. So we asked a few CIRA staff with roots from coast to coast:
Which project from your hometown region inspires you?
Newfoundland and Labrador
Our Holly Story is on the business development team and grew up in rural Newfoundland and has seen first-hand the issues of internet access.
“When you live on an island, there’s no where else to go but other rural communities. In Labrador today, you have to bring a satellite phone with you in case of an emergency because of the lack of cell and internet service.”
That’s why Holly was especially excited when we announced our first ever Newfoundland and Labrador projects being funded through the Community Investment Program this year.
SimpleCell is an infrastructure project that will allow residents currently without high-speed internet to access it from their cell phones and mobile devices. It will improve communication within the entire historical Francophone region of the Port au Port Peninsula in Newfoundland.
Every single day Holly works with schools and research institutions to ensure their users are safe and secure online using CIRA’s cybersecurity services. She finds it very motivating that “part of the money we bring in from our cybersecurity services and .CA domains supports these incredible projects improving Canada’s internet.”
Julia Hickey works in human resources at CIRA and part of what drew her to CIRA is her belief that “all Canadians should have good access to the internet.” The Orillia Christian Centre’s project providing internet access and digital literacy to the homeless really stood out for her in this year’s funding round.
There are social barriers to internet access for the homeless, vulnerable and those with limited income. This Orillia Christian Centre project will create a friendly, supportive environment for learning internet skills within a new computer setting, open to all facing barriers to accessing the internet.
“This project will be hugely beneficial to the lives of residents and the whole community because it creates opportunities for internet access and breaks down barriers” said Julia. “It’s inspiring to work at CIRA and be part of helping groups like this do their important work. Every little bit helps in building a better online Canada.”
Chris Migneault works in product support at CIRA, and is from Val-d'Or Quebec, where he wasn’t taught about digital literacy and the importance of being cybersecure. He sees this as an alarming gap for today’s youth.
“I’ve got two little nephews and I think of how easy it is to pretend you’re someone else online. It’s great to see an organization like Option consommateurs teaching kids, as well as parents, to be cautious about what you post on the internet and your lack of privacy."
Option consommateurs received funding this year to produce children’s stories on online privacy protection, cybersecurity and cyber-bullying.
Mamawapowin Technology Society will be upgrading and expanding wireless infrastructure in Samson Cree First Nation, thanks to a Community Investment Program grant this year.
Alyssa Moore, CIRA’s senior policy and advocacy advisor, volunteered to scale the roofs in the Maskwacis community and help build a mesh network last year. She worked with Bruce Buffalo, a self-taught engineer and the founder of the Mamawapowin Technology Society.
Maskwacis serves four reserves of Cree First Nations. Alyssa said when she turned off the highway into the community; she entered a network black-out zone and immediately lost cell service.
"Cell network coverage is spotty in much of Maskwacis, and the existing internet services available to residents are too pricey for folks living on lower incomes," said Alyssa.
“This is about more than just surfing the net for Bruce and the Mamawapowin Technology Society. He believes that free access to the web will give his community opportunities, vital resources, and education to bridge the digital divide.”
This is a mere glimpse of the projects we support.
That’s a quick tour through Canada highlighting a few of the many projects doing good through the internet CIRA is funding this year. To date, CIRA has provided $6.7 million in grants for 151 projects that improve digital literacy, internet infrastructure, access and online services.